[2019 Year in Review] Looking for imperfection
by Guest Beanie
Romance Is a Bonus Book
As someone that’s been obsessed with dramas since 2014, every year I see myself grow through the shows I choose to watch and the ones I actually liked. I came into 2019 excited for Lee Jong-seok in Romance Is a Bonus Book and he did not disappoint. (It’s a noona romance for the books. If you haven’t watched, I highly suggest you do.) However, I found myself unable to get through other dramas I was excited for like Abyss and Melting Me Softly and Tale of Nokdu. While it has to do with how picky I am as a viewer, I also think it has to do with what dramaland means to me.
The joy of watching a drama is having an unrealistic story where the characters, plot, and emotions are so well stitched together that it feels almost real. It makes you want to believe that it’s real.
That Psychometric Guy
Many dramas were well-written and acted this year like Hotel del Luna, Angel’s Last Mission: Love, That Psychometric Guy, Extraordinary You and more. Which, now that I think about it, were all fantasy dramas. But all of them had compelling stories that forced me to keep watching, and I loved them.
Another thing 2019 gave us is something the drama world tries to do every year: commentaries on the high school life. However, they did exceptionally well this year with SKY Castle, Class of Lies, and A Moment at Eighteen.
One thing I didn’t enjoy this year were the period dramas and the action-thrillers. I couldn’t get through Kill It, Tale of Nokdu, and The Crowned Clown. While I did watch Vagabond fully, it had a let-down for an ending (I mean, there is going to be a season 2 but ugh).
Something else I felt lacking was the comedy dramas this year? I don’t know why but the only comedy I saw this year was Woohoo Waikiki 2, and while I didn’t hate it, it wasn’t the same and I felt myself craving more good comedy.
However, the dramas that will stay with me through the years are the ones that can make me feel parts of myself and my story with their characters, their struggles, and emotions. Obviously, none of the stories are similar to my life story. I don’t live within a comic book, can’t do ballet, and can’t see ghosts (though I really wish even one of these K-drama characters were in my life). It’s the character building and their emotions that I can relate to. I know what it feels like to want to be in control of your life, and to want to help others, and to want justice. It’s the emotion merged with the sense of fantasy and the feeling that in some alternate universe you could really be living that drama. It’s that connection with the story that makes me want to watch.
For me this year, Hotel del Luna was that drama. There was pain intertwined with romance that made it so realistic. This drama had a very well written story; more importantly, it didn’t have the basic dramaland ending where somehow the magical character is able to find a loophole and stay with the human forever. While they did allude to a happy life together in the future, the drama established that they could never properly be together. Man-wol went to heaven, as she must, and Chan-sung had to deal with the pain. They were happy while they were together and that made their memories special. Not to mention IU looked stunning in every scene and all the actors played their roles very very well. (If there is no season 2 with Kim Soo-hyun I will be seriously mad.)
That brought me to realize exactly what I want more from in regard to K-dramas. I want that imperfection, that pain, that reality that things won’t always work to be out in the front. It makes everything that happened in the drama so much more special, shows so much more character development and is just more memorable. Why are they so scared to leave something incomplete? Unanswered? Imperfect?
Hotel del Luna
I think it’s looking for beauty in sadness and happiness in the imperfection of life that makes a drama more meaningful to me. The Japanese aesthetics of wabi-sabi and Yugen would be good references for what I want to express right now. There are plenty of literary examples of this, and a drama reference would be If We Were a Season. It was a 2017 drama special that’s only 2 episodes, but it is one of my favorite dramas to date, and I re-watch it almost every season (ironic, no?).
There were a lot of good dramas this year, but also a lot of ones I couldn’t get through, and a few that were disappointing. I am looking forward to 2020 with hopes that dramas will choose to step away from stories and characters we are used to seeing, and will come up new plotlines and leads to keep us intrigued. I would also just like to thank dramaland for providing me with hours of unrealistic dreams and fantasies of all the alternate lives I could have, and also for giving me crazy high expectations for guys and romance.
- [2019 Year in Review] Drama-watching with my mom
- [2019 Year in Review] The year the potted plant died
- [2019 Year in Review] I’m all cured from my persistent sageuk allergy
- [2019 Year in Review] All is fair in happiness and work
- [2019 Year in Review] The ME movement
- [2019 Year in Review] A sageuk for every season
- [2019 Year in Review] Memorable characters of 2019
- [2019 Year in Review] The One Where…
- [2019 Year in Review] My Top 20 Dramaland Moments of 2019