Drama Ratings

 
Note: These are only series we’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, dark, 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
It’s a familiar story 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
Basketball (2013)
빠스껫볼
Underdog sports story set in the Occupation, set up to culminate in historic unified Olympic team. If only we got there! Should’ve been more moving, more powerful, more sensical. Draggy plot, painfully green acting. (5 / 5)
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
This mellow rom-com proves 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
Cantbile Tomorrow (2014)
내일도 칸타빌레
(? / ?)
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
Offbeat comedy with a wacky, unpredictable hero. Features 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)
Doctor Stranger (2014)
닥터 이방인
Wish I could un-watch. Do they make a pill for that? (3 / 3) –GF
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
Jang Hyuk and Jang Nara turn this familiar story into something better than itself, but can’t save it entirely from exasperating angst. (6 / 6) A sweet throwback romance with a standout comedic outing from Jang Hyuk. Takes some frustrating plot turns that may have you reaching for something to break. (6 / 6) –GF
Feel-Good Day (2014)
기분 좋은 날
A funny sitcom-esque family weekend drama. As SBS’s banner show for its makjang-free policy, it tries a little too hard to be so free of conflict that it errs on the side of bland. Vanilla, but sweet. (7 / 6) –GF
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, about two people who come together despite barriers of culture, language, and distance. 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
Golden Cross (2014)
골든 크로스
Set in the financial world, this revenge thriller features a classic underdog hero up against an interesting mix of antagonists, winning some nice payoffs. Banking isn’t that sexy, but the writing and performances are solid. (8 / 8)
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
Hilarious comic performance by Seo In-gook. Poignant and funny for most of its run… but fantastical with its resolution, which sucks out some of the joy. (7 / 8) Two odd birds in a noona romance that defies logic but still manages to tug at the heartstrings. The mistaken identity hijinks are a hoot and the acting is a little bit genius. (8 / 8) –GF
High School: Love On (2014)
하이스쿨 러브온
(? / ?)
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
Iron Man (2014)
aka Blade Man
아이언맨
(? / ?)
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) Lee Jun-ki should always play a hero of the people. The rest, I could take or leave. (7 / 7) –GF
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
I wish more rom-coms could be like this: laugh-out-loud comedy, zippy chemistry, a winning heroine. (9 / 9) A damn good rom-com that’s romantic AND funny, peppered with witty, hip writing and buzz-worthy performances from the leads. (9 / 9) –GF
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 / 8) 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 Secret Hotel (2014)
마이 시크릿 호텔
Oy, this show. Compelling chemistry between Yoo Inna and Jin Yi-han, but what was with that plot? An incidental murder mystery and a relationship conflict that’s beyond frustrating drag down what could’ve been a fun, quirky rom-com. (6 / 6)
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
A really compelling performance from Kim Myung-min as a high-powered amnesiac lawyer, but the story ultimately limps to the finish line. (6 / 6) –GF
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 a cute 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 Door (2014)
비밀의 문
(? / ?)
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
Secret Love Affair (2014)
밀회
A peek into the lives of the social elite, complete with suffocating rules and a dangerous love affair that threatens to bring the house down. At times beautifully stark, at times frustratingly withholding. (6 / 8) –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
She’s So Lovable (2014)
aka My Lovely Girl, 내겐 너무 사랑스러운 그녀
(? / ?)
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
Surplus Princess (2014)
aka The Mermaid
잉여공구
This show is all silliness, but in a good way. It meanders a bit and the ending is rushed, but it’s bolstered by a fun cast of oddball underdogs, a dimly sweet heroine, strong friendships, and an assertive sense of humor. (8 / 7)
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 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
Three Musketeers (2014)
삼총사
(? / ?)
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) What can I say? The world could always use another noona-killer. Rawr. (8 / 7) –GF
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
Complex character relationships and story of familial healing can be sweet and heartfelt, but the pace gets overly meditative to the point of plodding. Could really have used a punch of energy. (6 / 7)
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
The endearing quartet of teammates-turned-friends was the highlight, but the plot was a bit of a yawn. (7 / 7) Simplistic, upbeat story about rookie cops, but cast chemistry and earnest writing take it up a notch. The laughs are pretty plentiful too. (8 / 7) –GF
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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1,170 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. 201 lovapalooza

    hey.. what about wonderful life.

  2. 202 coachdms

    I’d just finished watching So Ji Sub and Han Ji Min new drama ” Cain and Abel “, it’s a masterpiece in Korean’s drama beside ” East of Eden ” . I’ve been a fan of Kdrama for over 15 yrs+ (i’m a non-korean , living in the US) . That gor to be the best 2 drama of 2009 . I don’t see that on your drama rating , How come and other site like there were very little mention of Cain and Abel, how come ?? can you tell me your outtake of this drama

  3. 203 Sindy

    Hi… I’m not korean but i’m k-drama addicts, I find Kdrama more interesting than any other asian dramas like taiwan or jdrama.
    I totally agree with your ratings, but where are the others such as : Rivals aka. Powerful Opponents, etc (specially the new ones)?
    And one thing that i want to ask, is there anyone agree with me that I don’t like Winter Sonata, I can’t even finish watching it, it’s so boring, full of sadness, oh I hate it. I find myself wondering why it was such a big hit back then…

  4. 204 retsnom_Adedekutsu

    I can’t believe Fantasy Couple, Hong Gil Dong, Goong, and the Legend of Hyang Dan have the same “how good you think it is” rating. 0_0

    Does it mean that all of them have the same drama quality?

    I believe Fantasy Couple and Hong Gil Dong are better.

  5. 205 melai04_yukashii

    Wow! I can’t believe that you’ve watched all these dramas and spent tons of time writing reviews, ratings ang recaps.

    Don’t you have anything else to do?

    Btw, great job! I enjoyed visiting your blog. ^_^

  6. 206 yan

    thanks for your rates…..now i know what to watch!!!^___^

  7. 207 whiteclover

    hi.

    i just want to say i am totally agree with ur ratings. esp abt soulmate. that 1 sweet drama. in fact i am listening to the soundtrack now. u were right, the soundtrack is brilliant. and honestly, i knew soulmate from ur site, thx to u, now im addicted. and coffee prince too..i’ll check out the other drama that u listed here, cause believe it or not, i havent watch almost all drama u listed, and might never heard about them too. but i’ll do some homework. thx then=)

  8. 208 tombrady

    I really, really loved QSS. I have watched it twice – over 2 weeks! – because I really loved how the story unfolded. It made me cry both times – hehehe.

    The first time, i was in a hurry to see how it ends but took my time the second time to better appreciate the nuances in the story and characters. Such depth shown in the characterization, dialogue and directing. I credit the actors, the writer, and the director for that.

    I loved each and every character because they all seemed so real. Their mistakes did not seem contrived at all just to make the story more dramatic. Each mistake is very relatable for a common person like me. Sometimes, in our selfishness, we do terrible things despite the potential consequences.

    QSS moved me, especially Kang Tae Jo. I felt his pain and wept, I felt his joys and celebrated with him. I have never loved anyone else (YET!) as deeply as the main characters loved each other so I have not been hurt the way they had. Watching Han Eun Soo made me wonder: do I really want to love someone so much that I risk pain and suffering?

    … hehehe. As you can see, I can watch eloquent about Que Sera Sera.

  9. 209 adelle

    just wonder how u rate the beethoven virus? i’m waiting so long after yr final episode on june 2. hope to see your rating soon. ; )

  10. 210 Nymphe

    Coffee Prince bored me, Witch Yoo Hee was fun in the beginning, but the main character was really annoying, and Return of Iljimae is absolutely disgusting. I quit watching after seeing 4 minutes of the beginning. Jaded.

  11. 211 Rachel

    First of all, thank you so much for all the hard work you do!! I think I’d be lost without Dramabeans to keep me connected to my k-pop and k-drama obsession!! I’m glad that you recap everything the way that you do – I’m trying to beef up my list of drama to watch, and your reviews help me cut out some of the things I shouldn’t waste my time on. (Before my method was…ooh, hot guy. watching. oooh, cool poster, watching. Needless to say, many hours wasted…)

    I’m really glad you rated things with what you thought of it vs what you’d rate it – I find too often I’m swayed by personal feelings. Like Witch Yoo Hee for example — I LOVED that drama because it gave me something to do when I was down on my luck for a while; it lifted my spirits so to say. But thinking back on it, the drama itself wasn’t all that great. Filler, like you said, but nothing to really substantiate itself. I guess in today’s fan eat fan world, it’s nice to have someone who realizes that good dramas can be good dramas, even if you don’t personally like them.

    That being said, thank you so much!!

  12. 212 chin

    i really love korean drama series.. hope that abs-cbn( the philippines’ largest broadcasting company) will air more korean drama series.. i love koreans!

  13. 213 babymee

    oh wow~~ It’s my first time coming around to your blog and i just can’t believe i never came across it before. i just read your ratings of the dramas and its amazing how i agree with you on almost all of them. i dont know if it’s cuz of the all that ‘han ryu’ stuff going on but lately i’ve seen a lot of websites and forums dealing with kdrama. makes me feel good and proud lols.
    i have a chinese friend who just recently got hooked on kdramas (well acually i was the one who got her hooked on it lols) i should definitely tell her to come
    visit your site lols. well i’ll be looking forward to your next ratings.

  14. 214 kristenlf_031496

    Honestly… haven’t watch all this shows.. i had watch many romantic shows, I like them. I don’t watch boring stuff.. i am a picker, but most of what i have watch and like are not on this…. ill just try to watch what the others had voted.. im sure ots pretty good,too.. its summer and i dont know what to do. im bored… please, i need something to watch. i had been watching meteor garden and boys over flower a lot of times….

  15. 215 more

    please review some J dramas there not all bad

  16. 216 chance

    hey,

    y do some kdramas aren’t there..

    please consider these dramas and may i know how you react with these:

    1. i’m sorry i love you
    2. save the last dance..
    3. money war
    4. lovers in paris
    5. endless love 1, 2 and 3
    6. be strong geum soon
    7. ju-mong
    8. jewel in the palace
    9. cruel love

    thanks!

  17. 217 PhuongThanh

    Story of a Man 10/10?? WOOOOHOO! Holly mama, cannot agree more! I started to watch it only due to ur recaps n recommendations and ta-dah/voila/abrakadraba… IM IN LOVE WITH IT! I used to think that drama without love troubles as the main theme could barely catch my attention but I was completely wrong. (W-R-O-N-G haha, as Mangaz´d say)..whatever…thanks for introducing me this wonderful drama javabeans!!!

  18. 218 Baliji

    Hi,

    Just read your ratings of the Korean dramas. I myself have not seen them all, but for some that I have had a chance to see, I do agree with your ratings. By the way, have you had the chance to see City Hall? You can’t miss that one! Let me know what you think of it. I loved that drama, it is my number one Kdrama so far!!

    Looking forward to reading some more of your blogs….

    cheers,
    Baliji

  19. 219 CrimemasterGogo

    So 10/10 for Story of a man heh, I had some minor niggles with the drama personally but I can understand why you’d give it a 10. Well acted, well plotted and ep 13/14/19/20 are some of the best television I’ve watched in the last 4 years.

  20. 220 Ray

    I would rate Story of a Man 10/10 also. It’s the best Kdrama I’ve seen. All the actors not only embodied their characters but even took their character to the next level. SOAM was engaging from start to finish. It was such a thrill ride watching Kim Shin and Chae Do Woo go at it every single episode. Shin losing and getting back up and Do Woo cracking.

    Loved Story of a Man to bits. This is how a drama should be done.

  21. 221 Laura

    I came across your page because of Cain & Abel, as I was dying to find out more about the story after watching the first episode. I read the whole review you wrote about it (I never read all the way) You are a very good writer, and I enjoyed your review very much because I completely agree with you on everything… well, almost everything.
    I have made notes on some of the dramas you have rated here like, Que Sera Sera, Soulmate, Last Scandal, Story of a Man etc. I just want to say that I agree with you on Boys Over Flower. I watched the anime (Im a big anime fan) and I loved it, but I hate the drama. I have only made an attempt on the Korean version, and I really hate how everybody else seems to love it, which is why you are one of my favorite people right now, for giving it the rating it deserves whether you liked ir not.
    I hate dramas like Full House and My Girl, I haven’t watched Full House and I never will. My Girl was one of the first dramas I watched and I hate, hate, hate the lead male character. I love, love, love Lee Da Hee, and I like lee Jun Ki. I think there is potential in him.
    Sorry this is too long, but I had to express how I felt about your reviews. Also I want to ask you, since it seems like we have the same taste (Pretty much. You didn’t thought much of Vineyard Man, and while I agree on your rating, I like it) and feel the same way about some dramas/characters/actors lol.
    My question: What is your opinion about Lee Byung Hun?

  22. 222 HazyMonsoon

    Hey,

    I came across your blog awhile ago when I was trying to find recaps on a certain drama (which I’ve now forgotten xD)

    Just wanted to say that your ratings are really useful, apart from Soulmate, dramas you rated between 8-10 (like Dal Ja’s Sping, Last Scandal, My girl, Delightful Choon-hyang etc) were all really good!! So yeah.. thanks? xD

    Oh and I’m debating whether I should watch Flowers For My Life, because you rated it 10/10 but it doesn’t look too interesting to me.. Oh and have you watched Iljimae with Lee Joon Ki?

    Anyway thanks again, awesome work!! :D

  23. 223 Shini

    Haha, your ratings are something I can always fall back on when I have nothing to watch…I agree with almost all of them…

    Next up! Story of a Man!

  24. 224 darksyd666

    i disagree with what you said in vineyard. Yoon eun hye executes a good character there. shes not forgettable. she even won best actress for that drama.

  25. 225 WHATISGUD

    Hi dramabeans, thank you for rating + comments on the drama series. It’s very useful since I can use it as a guide for what to watch/buy. I watch korean dramas by reading the subtitles and the body language. My daughter said that korean dramas are the best.

  26. 226 LoveKoreanDrama

    Overall Korean dramas have a beautiful quality of everyday life stories and struggles, the Korean actors make american actors look so phoney…..take for example Winter Sonata….even the open scene when she comes running down the little side street to catch the morning bus, one feels transported into an enchanced world…..

    But for a European, there seems to be too much everyday violence; father’s beating sons, lovers hitting each other, and all that face slapping to just way too much to believe. Just like Vinyard Man…..terrible story, and the audience is supposed to believe that after all the physical and emotion abuse he delivers, she in the end loves him? Totally impossible. AirTime is in my all time top 10 favorites, because the story was so complex and the acting so sophisticated; there is nothing in american film that could even come close (may be the film: People Will Talk, but it is old).

  27. 227 Taj

    Hey!
    I really love your blog so much. I visit it all the time. It’s helps with understanding the dramas when the translation is weird. Thanks for the ratings!!!
    Peace and Love. xoxo

  28. 228 Silverbright

    Really like your blog and ratings.

    Have not seen all (will definitely have to see “Soulmate” & “Flowers” now) but from some of the one’s I have seen – definitely agree with you on a few e.g. Goong, Dal Ja, My Girl, STH et al .

    Would personally rate Coffee Prince a complete “10” since I totally fell in love with it despite all the hype which made me think I would dislike it . But I so loved it. The reverse was the case for me with MNKSS – something personal I think – no matter how much I tried I just couldn’t like it on any level – so would disagree with you and lower the ratings a bit there. And on a personal level liked Lovers a lot so I would raise ratings there – not for the storyline but something in the way the leads interacted – but thats personal as you say.

    My reason for rambling here is that I am nearing the end of a Kang Ji Hwan series – “Be Strong Geum Soon” – and I so love this drama despite its length (which was actually a big deterrant initially)that I have to share it here. This drama is so engaging, heartwarming, with wonderful characters, gorgeous KJH & a very cute lead actress – that it was amazing the speed with which I finished it. It was one of those which make you want to sit up night and day and finish the drama…..So I recommend it highly esp to all Kang Ji Hwan fans……Every single character has done a great job and it is a totally captivating drama ……Also known as Aja Geum Soon…

    Aja aja

  29. 229 starletbang

    Thanks for the ratings. I think I’m going to go and watch the Last Scandal of My Life now!

    I definitely agree with your ratings (I saw almost all the dramas on your list)

    Thanks dramabeans!

  30. 230 tuswit

    @230 you will enjoy Last Scandal, it’s one of my favorite Kdramas! Jeong jun ho is so good, funny and i loved the chem btwn him & the late Choi jin shil. I’ve seen this maybe 3x now.
    @javabeans – i also agree with your ratings cause i’ve seen most of these dramas on your list. thnx – i love visiting your site!

  31. 231 Suzumi

    I love your ratings for SOAM and Soulmate. Those are seriously my favorite kdrama series, along with Fashion 70s and Capital Scandal! I can’t express how happy I was to see SOAM get a 10/10 from you. I’m watching Return of Illjimae right now and will try Flowers for My Life later on~

  32. 232 Vee

    you are so right. soulmate was so much fun. i especially loved sa kang’s character. she is just so lovable.

  33. 233 Jackie

    can you do recaps for My Girl? i’m watching it now because of the high rating you gave it and its popularity, but i really don’t like it. i’m TRYING to, but i just can’t bring myself to. i want to see why everyone loves it so much :/

  34. 234 tonia

    Hello! I came across your blog while surfing the net for good K-series and when I saw your ratings of K drama I decided to watch some of your recommendations. I’m actually an Lee Da Hae fan, loved her since My Girl and then I watched her in Green Rose and just can’t stop from watching her other series. When I learned that she will be in East of Eden, somehow the series Sandglass kept coming up and when I saw that it was in your list of recommended dramas I decided to see what it was all about and OMG, I loved that series SANDGLASS for me was just so great, I just loved it and so when I watched East of Eden I was expecting something great to but unfortunately I was just disappointed and loss complete interest especially when my fave K-actress dropped out. But to everybody please watch SANDGLASS, you won’t regret it. That was a very intense series. I’m off to watch The Story of Man, been hearing some great things about it. :)

  35. 235 adelle

    will you consider to rate beethoven virus too?

  36. 236 Anonymous

    Or all the shows that you’ve seen, that would be great. :)

  37. 237 Shini

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously, I would not have given Story of a Man, a second look if it werent for your ratings…and even then I was pretty doubtful…but seriously, omg!!!! How can such an awesome drama be made? How is it possible someone made this good of a drama?? I enjoy every second of it, every look, every scene, it’s skipped all my fav’s till know, and settles itself in my No.1 drama (for now =P still need to watch 3 more episodes..but i’m kinda scared finishing it…it’s too sad T__T) And how can it get such low ratings? This is blasphemy!!

    Thanks again for rating everything ;) I wont doubt again xD

  38. 238 luraaa

    Shini,

    We all know here who have seen Story of a Man that it didn’t deserve its ratings in Korea. But then again, its not really all about the ratings. I’m glad I was able to watch SoaM because for me, it will always be my number 1 drama of all time. Everything was just perfect.

    And JB,

    I thank you for giving it a 10/10 rating here because it deserves it. Return of Iljimae looks pretty too, I’ll be giving it a try sometime.

    Thanks for this awesome site. (btw, I’ve been wanting to say this weeks ago, but dramafever is now available in North America, not just in the US. yey! )

  39. 239 reeyuh

    your ratings are helpful! im soo on a roll catching up on my Kdramas. it all started with boys over flowers. i loooove junpyo hahaha right now, im watching coffee prince, it’s my fourth kdrama.. (yeah, still a newbie) from BOF, full house, autumn in my heart, coffee prince. so far, im loving all the series i’ve watched. though autumn in my heart is too melodramatic for me. hmm, no review for autumn in my heart (endless love)?

    i’m nearing the end of coffee prince. sooo kawaiii hehehe though im still biased with BOF. haha i like how the story still proceeds with the 2 leads reconciling and giving their relationship a go.. this time with full knowledge that eun chan is actually a gurl hahaha

  40. 240 tamu

    you forgot “ALL ABOUT EVE”..this made me watch k dramas…

  41. 241 nara

    Actually..I only like comedy drama..but Story of A Man is exceptional…It’s makes me curious ’till the end…..It deserve 10….I suggest you to watch J-drama “Smile”…the music, directing, and acting.are best….

  42. 242 From nyc

    amazing blog….I check it often for drama updates…hope you get paid for all the hard work you put in but till then I guess it is good that you can keep collecting eyeballs over time. Why don’t you commercialize your blog? I am sure that Korean TV and music cos will pay hand over fist for someone with such a captive audience – just make sure that u talk to a contract lawyer before doing a deal so they dont get free advertising for pennies.

  43. 243 Julia

    Hey javabeans you have the most amazing esipode syn of k dramas and I was wondering whether you watched rebirth or queen of the housewives?

  44. 244 tonia

    Just finished watching Story of a Man and Soulmate and I both fell in love with both series. SoaM was just so gripping and I love Chae Do Woo, evil personified. Soulmate was just so endearing and never thought I would fall in love with this series but I thought to give it a try and what can I say, it was a very good love story and so different from what is being shown out there these days. I love how their lovestory was played out all throughout the series. Wished that they would have continued and made a season 2 it would have been interesting to see it.

  45. 245 oppa888

    Hi Javabeans,

    I think that Swallow The Sun is a great drama, huge production, from S.Korea, USA, South Africa. Im very impressed after 10 episodes and have not found any flat spots within this drama. Fast paced, well scripted, cinematography is also fantastic.. etc…

  46. 246 glacierkn

    Hi Javabeans,

    I’m just another one to pester you about how much I liked Capital Scandal. True, it was slapstick at times, but that just added a lighter side to the overall dark story. Anyway, I love your site…thanks so much!

  47. 247 eneria143

    hello, i really enjoy reading all that is written in this site…. thank you so much…im a fan of yoon eun hye and kdrama addicts… but seems that MFL is not for yoon eun hye… (just my opinion)… i like her being simple like in coffee prince and princess hours…

    More power and hope for more updates on You’re Handsome series and also pretty Han Hyo Joo, and Yoon Eun hye…

  48. 248 Yaya

    Hi Javabeans,

    Your rating is actually very helpful. I tend to look up on this site before deciding to watch some dramas, especially the old ones and the underrated dramas. Too bad that certain dramas receive all the hypes but did not meet the viewers’ expectations; in contrast certain series did not well in terms of the rating but really have good combination of plot, cast, directing and scripts.

    Have you watched Capital Scandal? It’s my all-time-favorite KDrama, especially from KJH.

    Thanks for your review.

  49. 249 Kajova

    Hey Javabeans
    love your blog, it keeps me informed of the best in korean actors and dramas, I have dificulty remembering their names tough, but love your reviews and am trying to find time to watch the ones you comment on. Gracias!!!!

  50. 250 Anonymous

    i liked BOF a lot.

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