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Almost paradise: K-dramas and their OSTs

A drama’s OST, or original soundtrack, is a powerful player in dramaland. It has the ability to single-handedly make or break the show’s strongest and most powerful scenes. The soundtrack can either elicit more tears than you care to shed over parted lovers, thwarted lovers, and reunited lovers — or it can make you gag and hit fast-forward (or at least mute).

I’ve discovered two simple words that express the earth-shaking power of a drama’s soundtrack: almost paradise. And if you’ve seen Boys Before Flowers, you not only know exactly what I’m talking about, but the infamous T-Max song has already started playing in your head, and probably will continue to do so all week. You’re welcome.

What I’m getting at is that sometimes a drama’s soundtrack — and that one, specific overplayed theme song — eclipses the drama itself. One such offender that comes to mind is Changmin’s “Moment” from the Heirs OST. If ever there was an overused, hive-inducing song inserted into a drama, it was this one.

“Love is the mooooooment!” burst out so frequently anytime our leads were together that it became more troublesome than the drama’s actual antagonists. Did the confusing English phrasing make it better or worse? I’m still undecided. Love is the moment? For me, love is the moment when I hit the mute button with ninja-level speed.

Frequency of playback is also to blame for taking some nice drama soundtracks and turning them into abhorrent tunes I never want to hear again. I love the team behind Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food and One Spring Night, and they have a way of carefully curating songs that fit the tone of these dramas — but then they murder them by repeating the songs multiple times per episode. No exaggeration.

In One Spring Night, a leading character could not move from any location without the sudden burst of Rachel Yamagata’s “No Direction” to accompany them. It was okay the first few times, but soon it overpowered whatever was happening on screen. And in Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food it was more of the same. Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman? Yes. But sometimes it is also hard to be a K-drama watcher.

Something interesting about OSTs is that I find my reaction to them changes over the course of my drama watching. At first, it’s okay. A song like LYn’s “My Destiny” (of You From Another Star fame) is expected in such a drama. But by the time we’re on the fifth replay, it’s already starting to get to me. By the last episodes of the drama, I’m either making fun of it, or singing along in a hilarious voice (or maybe they’re one in the same?).

When the theme song is killed by overuse, it also kills whatever emotion the production team was hoping it would elicit. I can safely say I would have enjoyed You From Another Star just as much if that song were missing in action.

But here’s the funny part. After time passes, the nails-on-chalkboard reaction quiets. And if I hear the song again — in a clip, homage, or even a spoof — I feel a happy burst of drama nostalgia.

How can something that started out as egregious and annoying become something that can manifest nostalgia in a snap? Music is powerful. It carries us back to memories, places, people, emotions — even to K-dramas past.

Sometimes the nostalgia is just around the drama, as with You From Another Star. I’ll think fondly on the awesomeness of Jun Ji-hyun, the fashion and makeup crazes she sparked, and usually end this thought process with, “How is she so gorgeous?!”

But there’s a deeper nostalgia, too, and if we’re talking about the emotions brought on by the chorus of “Almost Paradise,” I’m whisked back to my first-ever K-drama — and to everything that was going on in my own life then, too.

Music can spark memories and emotions, but isn’t it amazing how it can make you remember things you don’t even remember remembering? This happens to me all the time in real life, when music brings me back to a certain chapter or circumstance in my life — but it happens in dramaland too.

I didn’t know there was a little filing cabinet in my brain for K-drama OSTs, but it seems there is. All I had to do was click on Yoonmirae’s “Always” and *whoosh* I was back in Uruk and thinking about that strangely romantic drama.

Soundtracks can be powerful tools of remembering, and while I’ve been picking on some particularly poor ones, there are many instances where the opposite is true. There are many OSTs that are so wonderful or special that they cause ripples of happiness whenever they are heard, long after the drama is over. Crush’s “Beautiful” from The Lonely Shining Goblin is one of those for me. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing — the second I hear that piano intro, I’ve stopped to listen.

The theme song from Healer is another one that makes me infectiously happy. It’s not just because I loved the drama so much, but there is something about “Eternal Love” that’s just epic. Is it the strings? The slow journey to the chorus? The total cheesiness? Either way, this is one drama OST that makes me want to jump on the couch instead of hide under it.

A more recent (but equally infectious) example is the use of VERIVERY’s “My Beauty” in the closing credits of Extraordinary You. There is nothing like finishing out a fantastic episode with a song that makes you love the world of the story even more — and then, like we were saying before, becomes synonymous with it. Because I can’t play “My Beauty” in my car without seeing the Stage and Shadow, and all those wonderful characters lined up in my mind’s eye.

But there’s another use of music in K-dramas that goes a step beyond the OST and theme song, and that’s the use of music within the world the drama. This is common for music-focused dramas, of which there are many, but none did it better for me than Shut Up: Flower Boy Band.

All these years later, Sung Joon singing “Wake Up” and “Today” still gut me as much as they did when I first watched the drama. These songs are as strong within the drama (as a part of the plot) are they are outside of it (as a part of the drama).

There are so many other examples of in-drama music that were particularly well-done, but one of my absolute meta-y favorites was the classical guitar song “Memories of the Alhambra” in the Hyun Bin drama of the same name. In a story that played with the line between reality and fiction, this song — and that eerie, almost mythical guitar playing — became more than a mere song. It signified the shift of boundaries, worlds, and all this time later I can’t hear it without looking over my shoulder and wondering who or what I’ll find there. (And sadly, no, it’s not Hyun Bin.)

While I’ve picked on a lot of the drama OSTs that have threatened to drive me crazy, the main point here is not my lack of patience for overpowering ballads, but the fact that music plays an important part in the drama experience. And though I might complain, when it comes down to it, I actually love them, because they’re an integral part of the K-drama package.

Whether it’s a catchy song that you can’t wait to hear at the closing credits, or a song that’s woven into the very fabric of the drama itself, music has the power to elevate a drama into pure magic. And if it doesn’t make magic, well, it still makes something memorable.

 
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I think, for me, Love is Over from Moonlight Drawn by Clouds was one of those OSTs that I just had to go and press the mute button for. Every time it played I found myself screaming at the screen that no, love is not over, stop torturing our OTP and just SHUT UP!

Chicago Typewriter's OST however, is one that brings back all I felt for this show and its characters and I just cannot give it a listen without tearing up, especially Writing Our Stories By SG Wannabe, I can just hear Shin Yul going "Oye, Seo Hui Hyung, I’m sorry I made Su-hyun cry, I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promises in this life, if there is a next life, I’ll keep my word, I’ll come to you and make you two happy.." And, yes, I still remember this because of how much it got me!

Thank you for this @missvictrix.

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That scene was such a killer. The music definitely elevated my emotions.

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Oh yes, Chicago Typewriter is THE standout for OST. It is the only time I have searched out the audio CD for a Kdrama because I wanted the music close to me. When I have shared the music with friends who are not kdrama fans, they also love the music, having never even seen the drama. Love it!

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Aha, that may be one reason I dropped MDBC. It would have been fun if it didn’t try to be so romantic.

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There are two OSTs which are my absolute favorites - Chicago Typewriter's "Sattelite Love" by Salt and Pepper and Goblin's "Stay with me" by Chanyol and Punch. They are so hauntingly beautiful and for some reason these tunes makes me calm in most stressful situations. These two are some of the most beautiful songs in my playlist Hat's off to the creators!

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Sattelite love is so pretty, it always gets me, but on CT there was also the Boni Pueri falsetto "morning breeze" one that at first I found screeching and irritating but ended up crying to... (oh no!, looked up a YT clip and I'm getting the Feels all over again)

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Goblin OST was overall quite good and I agree Stay With Me is one of the best ODT songs I’ve heard over 12 heart of watching k-dramas. It’s beautiful but also epic.

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Goblin's Beautiful was so good it instantly makes me feel relaxed.

As to your article - you're so mean! Now I have to rewatch Healer, Goblin, Heirs, ... well, it is the power of the k-drama OST!

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To summarize this write-up—which, as always, is another one beautifully written and articulated by @missvictrix 🥰🥰🥰— into 3 words:

The Mozart Effect

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The way I sang the title though

Almooost paraaaadise~~~~

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Glad I'm not the only one! High five🙋. Haha😅

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I started singing Coldplay paradise.....para para paradise..... Para Para paradise.... Everytime I close my eyes

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"How can something that started out as egregious and annoying become something that can manifest nostalgia in a snap?" This is so on point! Congratulations, @missvictrix, your writing is funny and insightful!

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Almost Paradise was legendary.

I can hear it as I read the title above. I can hear it as I typed it....

🎶Almost paradiiiiiiiiiisssssssseeeeeeee~~~🎶

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I don't dislike almost paradise. But love is the moment...ugh.

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Rather than the OSTs themselves, I find the background music of a drama more intriguing. Especially those epic BGMs from sageuks. I love them!

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You're not alone! This summer I was listening to Rebel OST on a loop, also really enjoyed My Country OST

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"Because It's You," is my current listen to over and over addiction.

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"Because it's you" also gives me the Feels, so sad and sweet...

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Sameee. Unfortunately they are harder to find and I hate it when at times the team decides they aren't releasing any bgms. My country has some good bgms but I'm more in the contemporary instrumentals.

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I agree, the sageuk bgms sound so epic! Some of my favorites are Rebel, Seven day queen, 100 days my prince, Tale of Nokdu, etc.
I remember when I re-watched SDQ, the scene where young Chae kyung started whistling the beautiful tune with Yeok watching her from behind and the bgm started playing, I found myself tearing up instantly!

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Oh yes. MOON LOVERS had some modern songs which were nice, though sometimes jarring (that rap during the romantic beach scene!), but the instrumental bgm were epic sageuk stuff.

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@wishfultoki,
OST Pt. 2 "Say Yes" with "baby baby baby boy..." put me in high dudgeon every time it played. For me, it and some of the other pieces just didn't belong in Goryeo. It must have been the cognitive dissonance of that phrase being applied to at least a few ruthless princes who were willing to commit fratricide to secure the throne. But somehow MC Sniper is so badass that it would have been perfect for Wang So to charge around on horseback to that music -- the same way Magistrate Eun-oh fought supernatural opponents with his fan to Sniper's rap. I'll blame it on on Jang Hyuk, whose swordfights in CHUNO were that much more epic because of Sniper's music. I don't even like rap -- except for Sniper and Kim Min-jae's in THE BEST HIT. Sheesh.

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Sageuks have amazing background music: Chuno, Damo, Rebel, and Mr. Sunshine are some of my favorites.

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I love the healer song - it just brings me back to the drama and all the feels
I think music helps to also connect the story to the audience - at the moment while watching CLOY , I think Yoon MR Flower plays a huge part for my liking of the drama - it’s a understated beautiful song that undertones the silent romance.

I absolutely hated “love is the moment” in heirs - hello I pick the moment to identify love you don’t have to scream it in my ears!!! It hugely distracted me from the scenes - I remember rolling my eyes when it’s comes on play or anticipating when it will start (and it always will!)

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Yoon Mirae's "Flower" is a truly beautiful song! It doesn't sound that fantastic at first, but after awhile, the song just rings in my head!

I later realised that I really like the instrumental version of the song too, which is quite epic by itself. There is this gentle and dreamy bell-like-chime that chimes throughout the chorus of the song (wonder what instrument is that?).

Yoon Mirae sang the song in a really lovely way too... I love her husky / breaky voice every time when she sings "If this moment is full of happiness... That’s because of you..."

Looping this song for most of my day today!!

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My only memory of Love is the moment is LMH lying on his bed with a white net shirt and that playing in the background for good 2 mins. I guess that's also the last memory of the show for me, I didn't continue Heirs then.

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Omg heirs was such a dividing Polarising drama. Some people adore it, I was addicted to watching episode yet didn’t like at all. Now all I remember are LMH ugly sweaters he wore throughout the drama - it was like he was wearing one uglier sweater each time! LMH should absolutely stay out winter dramas. His stylist have bad winter taste! Lol

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Believe it or not but our office doorbell is Memories of Alhambra Guitar tune and yes i jump every time I hear it, i was so confused when i first heard, it was o

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(contd.) it was really scary, lol!

My fav OST is Just between lovers OST and i have spent the last whole night desparately trying to buy it's CD which is all sold out T_T !

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OMG do you mean that haunting tune whenever Emma appears?

That freaked me out for weeks after the show ended!

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Yeah! It freaked me out completely when i first heard it because some one rang a bell and i had no idea where the sound was coming from.

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@missvictrix lovely write-up as usual, thank you for this post! I found myself listening to the 'It's okay, that's love' soundtrack last night after scrolling through youtube.

I've discovered so many new artists that I love through kdrama soundtracks like Jannabi, MeloMance, Sondia etc. If I'm up to date with a show and waiting for the next episode, I will wait by listening to the soundtrack again.

I've noticed the production team will hold back on releasing a track whilst the show is running. Tracks like 'We all lie' in Sky Castle, 'Something in your eyes' in My ID is Gangnam Beauty were addicting to listen to and along with the next episode, I couldn't wait to finally hear the full track.

For dramas like Pretty Noona which started off with so much promise, I think I had watched at least 4-5 episodes at a time. By the time we had reached the halfway point, I was sick and tired of 'Sometimes it's hard to be a woman' and 'Stand by your man'. It felt like the music director was mocking us because all I wanted SYJ to do was to stand up for herself and run away from everyone! I recently went shopping and heard 'Stand by your man' I left the shop.

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For me, Pretty Noona just doesn't exist.

Can't remember any single thing from the show, let alone the music.

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Btw, I also love Jannabi, especially 'The Story You Couldn't See' I heard in Romance is a Bonus Book.

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You see Romance is a bonus book irritated me, so I couldn't listen to the soundtrack after the show ended. Maybe once I forget the storyline, I can listen to it again.

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I have a list but they are different from the ones mentioned (we and I guess entire drama community shares the love-hate for almost paradise and Love is the moment lol i just sang these two)

Cheese in the Trap
Falling for innocence (more instrumentals than Ost's)
Jealousy Incarnate
Misaeng
Signal
My Ajusshi
Just Between Lovers
Chicago Typewriter
Be Melodramatic
Come and Hug Me (more instrumentals than OST - great instrumentals btw)
Seven Day Queen
Weightlifting fairy KBJ
City Hunter

There are many others that I liked but won't go back to listening them time and again, unlike these mentioned above. There's clearly a pattern. It's not the Ost's liked by the majority. And I remember a post by m3lon4 once on an old OT that mentioned many music producers. The people that hardly get any recognition and amongst the shows music I liked there were the same three /four people working on them. The names I remember are Tearliner and Nam Hye Sung.

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Cheese in the Trap had a fabulous OST...it is still one of my favorite CDs!

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so agree with Come Here and Hug Me, the instrumentals give more oomph to the drama especially the instrumentals for the psychopath dad

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I so agree with the Falling for Innocence OST - I listen to it often. An under appreciated soundtrack I think.

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Awww I just love the BOF OST. Almost Paradise is great. But I also really liked the other T-Max, Shinee and SS501 songs in it. And in fact the OST also has a lot of songs which were not used in the drama at all. I still listen to the OST of BOF.
So I generally grow to like the music played in any drama and then I download them and play them over and over. But I guess when the effect of the drama wears off the songs dont seem so good. Like they only sounded good in the drama. I dont know that happens to me with many songs, does that happen to you'll?

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Agree, @missvictrix! VERIVERY’s “My Beauty” from Extraordinary You brings me back when we were first introduced to Haru! Just to add, Sondia's and Stray Kid's OSTs were memorable too!

Other memorable OSTs for me are Kim Bo Kyung's Suddenly from City Hunter; Dear Cloud's Remember and Ben's Hug Me from I Remember You/ Hello Monster, and of course, Jang Jae In ft Nashow's Auditory Hallucination from Kill Me, Heal Me.

I also make sure to check the OST queens regardless if I'm watching the drama or not: Baek Ji Young, Yoon Mi Rae, Ailee, Hyorin, Ben, Gummy, Punch, Kim Na Young, LYn, Ali, etc. There are too many artists to mention, haha :)

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I loveeeeeeeeee the Stray Kids OST. I had it on replay so much! Sondia's song is good too, along with the one she did for My Ahjussi.

Totally agree with Kim Bo Kyung's "Suddenly" for City Hunter! I also really loved Goblin's and Cheese in the Trap's OST. So good.

Yesss. Whenever I see the OST queens/princesses (ha!) sing a song for a drama, I listen to them even if I'm not watching. I would include Taeyeon even though she doesn't do as many OSTs as she did in the past.

While You Were Sleeping also had a few good songs. I really liked "It's You" by Henry and "When the Night Comes" by Eddy Kim (this was pre-scandal).

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Saaammme, Anna, Same!!! The song feels so hopeful when I was worried about the Extraordinary You's ending. For My Ahjussi, I thought IU was the one singing, but that was actually Sondia. She's now included in my list of artists to watch out for.

I downloaded the whole album of Goblin OST. For Cheese in the Trap, there was one song that stood out for me, it's "Such"

Yeah! I forgot to mention Taeyeon! Thanks for bringing her up.

Yes! I also liked While You Were Sleeping OST. Eddy Kim's "When The Night Comes" really was nice, it feels like snow, sad he was involved in the scandal though.

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I really loved Vanilla Acoustic and SALTNPAPER's OST songs for CITT.

Would have loved to hear Eddy Kim sing "When the Night Comes" live. It's like a hauntingly beautiful song. Yep, unfortunate (or fortunate ?since now we know he's not a good person) that he was involved in that scandal.

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For me, as much as i dislike the overuse of Ost in dramas i think that is the thing which triggers my memories and remember more about the drama after ages watching it.
I never knew i would remember korean osts so much because i am not much into this language music, but i am happy that even though i can sing with wrong lyrics but the tune and feelings would be on point.

My favourite Osts
1. Back in time - Moon Embracing the Sun
2. Full album of You're beautiful
3. Full album of Secret garden
4. You are my destiny- My love from another star
5. Full album of Extraordinary You
6. Beautiful - Goblin
7.Love is you - Me too flower
8.Eternal love - Healer
9. Touch love - Master's Sun
10. Full album of My girl
11. Because i'm stupid - Boys over flowers
12..Dream- Hwarang

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I completely forgot about these special ones.
13. Perhaps Love- Goong
14.Auditory Hallucinations - Kill me heal me
15. I'll Pick you up- Weightlifting fairy Kim Bok Joo

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Back in time - Moon Embracing the Sun is/was so good. SO much emotion and fit so well.

You're Beautiful's OST was awesome.

I loveeeeeee Crush's Beautiful. His voice is so smoothh.

Yoon Mi Rae is great. Love her OST's, too. Wish she would sing some of them live!

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You're right, @missvictrix! A show's theme song lingers for a long time. Until now, I still remember when Bambalbambam (of Queen Seondeok fame - I don't know if that's the correct title but I'm sure it's part of the song) plays which means turning on the sadness. And 'That Man' from Secret Garden walking while imagining the woman. Huh - actually makes me remember the whole angsty part!

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That man song immediately makes me remember how Kim Joo won(Hyun Bin) wandered around his huge villa while thinking and imagining of Gil Ra Im(Ha Ji won) walking along him side by side. The feels ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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"I love the team behind Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food and One Spring Night, and they have a way of carefully curating songs that fit the tone of these dramas — but then they murder them by repeating the songs multiple times per episode. No exaggeration."

Agree 110%!!!

I actually finished both dramas, because of the hype and Jung Hae In (loved him in WYWS)... but I think their OSTs played a BIG role in me hating - - - well, sort of grown to "not like" both dramas.

Recent OSTs that I ❤️❤️❤️ are:
"Stay with Me" from Goblin
"Take my hand" from RIABB
"Rainbow" from My Mister
to name a few.

And can I say... I can't seem to get on the K-Pop bandwagon... but I absloutely love my OSTs. 😍

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Mr. Sunshine isn't my favorite drama, nor is Good day by Melomance may fav OST.
But that moment in the final episode where that song start to play with the camera closing in on Ae-Shin's bloody wedding ring, I was so overcome with emotions that I still get something stuck in my throat when that song comes up on my shuffle.

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I would make my family laugh by singing the "We all Lie' track from Skycastle at the end of every episode. I had to download it afterwards, it is such a good track. Now I have made it my mission to sing this whenever anyone I know gives surprising news.

Also concur with the comments on One Spring Night. I was singing "Peoooople maaaay changeee" by episode 4 even though I thought the song was annoying at first.

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My Ahjussi OST was pretty powerful. I loved 'adult' and 'one million roses' the most.
I did like 'No Direction' From 'One Spring Night'

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YES to Adult! The lyrics, the way Sondia sings it, the melody— just everything in that song brings comfort!

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Every time I hear Adult I instantly feel melodramatic. I also loved Dear Moon from My Ahjussi OST.

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Thank you! I was reading the comments and asking myself why nobody has mentioned My Ahjussi’s OSTs. Adult is my absolute fav and I do love the rest as well.

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Wow. Thank you for this! Some of the OSTs you mentioned were among my fave of faves! They're those that stay in my playlist long after the drama has ended. And yes, they bring back memories every. single. time. In addition, here are some of the songs that evoke nostalgia for me:
-Reply 1988, Youth, Don't Worry
-Secret Garden, That Man
-Miss Hammurabi, Someday, Somehow
-I Remember You, Remember (by Dear Cloud)
-Arang and the Magistrate, Fantasy
-Reply 1997, All for You
-It's okay, it's love, Best Luck
-Master's sun, Driving me Crazy
-Kill Me, Heal Me, Auditory hallucinations

And many more! Thanks for this, @missvictrix

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Your comment about, "That Man," from Secret Garden, caught my eye because "That Man," from My Mister is my favorite song from that drama. These are completely different songs, with the same title. It took me forever to find the title, "That Man," and the artists performing it, Lee Hee Moon, on the My Mister OST.

I went through my YouTube bookmarks and was reminded of all my favorite songs to this point.

Princess's Man - Goodbye My Love
Princess's Man - Destino
Road No. 1 - Same Heart
Legend of the Blue Sea - Love Story
Self-Portrait Dongju - Kang Ha Nuel (I know this is a movie, but this song is so wonderful and the movie is so moving)
Chocolate - the high and low song, yet to be found
Chocolate - Always Be Here

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Something in the rain had some of the worst English ost I've ever heard.... It's original osts although overused are very good. But SITR is a case study on how to ruin your drama with the osts.

While You Were Sleeping, Just Between Lovers, Chicago Typewriter, Come & Hug Me, The King Loves, Extraordinary You & Miss Hammurabi are some of those drama with osts that transport me to the feelings I had when I was watching the drama, & are good as stand alone songs.

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Also Hwayugi.

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If there is one drama that comes to mind with very good English ost, that would be It's Okay, It's Love. The drama made me look for and download all those english songs before they were officially released. Lol

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This is great, most OST's I ignore, there are some I actively hate( you are MY DESTINNNNNNNNNNY), but there are two that always make me happy, Eternal from Healer and more recently Moments from At Eighteen. I have them on my ipod I love them so much. I'm not as big on music as some people are unless it is driving the drama like Secret Love Affair. Absent that I don't need music for a drama, some of the best moments are when the music stops.

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I was thinking about Secret Love Affair too... Such beautiful music!

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For all the OSTs listed, I'm surprised nobody listed Goong's "Perhaps Love" as one of the major classics. I still love that song and play it once in a while for my dreamy childhood memories.

As for OSTs I adored?
Six Flying Dragons
Muiiya? Was my shit. All the remixes of Muiiya were well deserved. And listening to Byun Yohan croon The Song of Chosun to make you go into a crying fit about Bangji? Yes please.

Lookout
I loved that each individual song was tailored to each of the leads. From the get-go you knew which song was for who, and "Amen" for one was such a jam.

The King's Face
Frankly? "Goodbye Those Words" was the only song I loved and the only song that made it here.

History of a Salaryman
The best orchestrals I've listened to in a while. "Determination" is automatically recommended.

Squad 38
It only has 2 songs but both songs are perfect! "Run" and "Cool" really made the mood for the show and it was fantastic for something so short.

When the Devil Calls Your Name
Every! Single! Song! Was great! Even the remixes. Indisputedly one of the better OSTs I've earwormed towards for a while.

Anything written by Noh Heekyung
Death! Death! Listening to anything she ties to her dramas instantly wallops my feels into the next week. Not recommended if you're trying to live your daily life.

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I love all the instrumental pieces from Goong as well!!

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I completely forgot to add When the devil calls your name in my list. It has an overall great ost even though a few songs are remixed.
The OSTS of shows by NHK are all great too. And Squad 38's osts were cool, I remember listening to them a lot when they were released but I never felt like listening to them again.

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I love Goong's Perhaps Love. That's a total classic.

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OMG I forgot about Goong's masterpiece song 'Perhaps Love'.I still play that song often. I need to see Eun Hye and Joo Ji hoon together again in a drama.

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Goong! Its instrumental osts are lovely! I even use one as my ringtone until now.

This one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdwXK4vBYdo&list=PL462ADA520DABAE52&index=6

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Only watched a couple of complete episodes and bits and pieces of WTDCYN, but the songs were great!

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I also loved Goong's "Perhaps Love"and "Amen" from Lookout. Lookout had one of the best opening scenes - a high octane scene of the heroine on a motorcycle chasing down a car driven by this domestic abuser, stopping a truck by throwing her motorcycle into its path, and then kicking the perpetrator until he threw up blood - all the while the song goes "Close your eyes. It’s time for the payback. Just pray to your god. " Great song for a thriller/revenge drama featuring vigilante justice.

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@poliwag,
Amen to “Muyiyiya” and “Song of Chungsan [Green Mountain].” Beautiful, and I loved the variations.

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A recent one: Graceful Family's Ost was particularly refreshing.

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What I remember is the over the top BGM that was just as makjang as the scenes. It really added to my enjoyment!

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I have too many OSTs I remember.
I remember my Dad liking a ballad sung by TVXQ for a Bae Yong Jun drama, Tae Wang Sa Shin Gi, I think is the title. Also, loving the orchestral pieces in that drama are so epic.

I onky followed Goblin through recaps here in Dramabeans but I remember watching the character teaser for the female lead, and the music instantly makes me feel nostalgic and light that it feels as if I'm transported in another dimension.

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I loved that song from TWSSG too - thousand years of love. I still listen to it sometimes. I also loved those orchestral pieces from that drama. (An aside - there hasn't been any sageuk fantasy kdrama that has matched up with the epicness of TWSSG. The cost of making it eventually contributed to the director's suicide, so it would be risky to pursue something at that scale)

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I see, that is sad. I only learned of that today

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@ Aiwille,

Tae Wang Sa Shin Gi = THE STORY OF THE FIRST KING'S FOUR GODS = THE LEGEND.

I watched the drama last year, and agree that its instrumental score, composed by Joe Hisaishi of Studio Ghibli, is epic. So are the OSTs of JUMONG / PRINCE OF THE LEGEND and KINGDOM OF THE WINDS / LAND OF THE WIND.

https://wiki.d-addicts.com/The_Legend_OST

That piece your Dad liked by TVXQ [sometimes listed as DBSK] is "Thousand Year Love Song" (Japanese release only).

Another beautiful track:
Jun Suh: "Approval"

BTW, Joe Hisaishi's score for MONONOKE HIME / PRINCESS MONONOKE is another beauty. "Legend of Ashitaka" and the main theme (plus the live vocal version of it by Masako Hayashi) are majestic and uplifting.

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Yes, I am familiar with Joe Hisaishi and with Mononoke Hime. All of his compositions are beautiful

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Satellite Love also makes me feel nostalgic but in terms of nostalgia, Orchestral BGMs from old, I mean old Kdramas of my childhood come to mind.

These includes All Orchestral BGMs of Tae Wang Sa Shin Gi.
With Dae Jang Geum, the Onara song comes to in mind, also the music in the opening sequence.

Also, Beige's humming in Love in the Moonlight is, beautiful.

In terms of soundtracks I'd like to mute, every time Moonlight Sonata plays in Hotel Del Luna, the memes come to mind. I know it's connected to the story with the moon but Clair de Lune would not fit the drama I think.

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Personally, I'm the kind who, when she loved a song, can listen it repeatedly (that has a lot of advantages when you are in a car with your young nieces because I can listen Moana's songs during one hour without problem). So I'm not bothered by the fact they always played the same song if I like it.

I really like the fact to discover the story, actors and the OST when I start a drama. I like the fact they make specially the song for one unique story. It became weird when I hear an old song in a drama except for Girl Generation 1979, the OST was great!

For the good OST, I can't list them... Too many songs. I did start a post on the forum of Viki a long time ago. OST let me discover artists like Sondia, Yoon Mirae, Every Single Day, etc. or idols who have a good voice they can't express in their usual songs.

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In my case it’s not so much the overuse of an OST but bad English lyrics that makes me screech for help. “Love is the moment” is a prime example of that. 🙉

I must be one of the few beanies that likes “Almost Paradise”. It’s so silly and bouncy that it always made me smile during the drama (as in “ok, here we go, let’s have some fun!”) and still makes me smile now from nostalgia.

I don’t know if music producers have taken a hint, but I hardly associate dramas with one song anymore. The recent big dramas (except ARTHDAL hololololo) have a new OST every week that they play at the end credits, so I am not exposed to the theme song as much as I used to be.. If there is even a theme song. Is that just me? Or maybe I just watch too few dramas nowadays.

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There are also the OSTs that have all the ingredients to be fingernails-n-chalkboard annoying but somehow aren't. I lost count of the number of times they loudly pushed the song "We All Lie" into the foreground in SKY Castle. Why weren't we annoyed by it?

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Because probably it felt right to have "We all lie" ring in the background knowing it's a central theme in the drama. Even I got addicted to that song lol

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I have a dedicated playlist of Kdrama OSTs, and “Incurable Illness” by Navi (feat. Kebee) off the Secret OST is the most played song. Every listen returns me to the person I was, watching Secret for the first time.

It’s songs like “Who Are You” by Sam Kim (Goblin), “Maybe” by Lee Hae-ri (Her Private Life), “My Way” by ISU (Money Flower), “Secrets Can’t Tell” by Moon Myung-jin (Kill Me, Heal Me), and “Grown Ups” by Sondia (My Ajusshi) that act as auditory cues for transportation back to that state of first enchantment with a drama, all the way through to the end. It’s reliving without rewatching, saving me hours.

Even though most dramas play the same song(s) over the series, I find that the dramas using one song to accentuate certain emotional beats are the dramas that excel. I think “Grown Ups” is used in every episode of My Ajusshi at least once except for the last one, and yet it never gets tired. It seems to change in meaning as the story changes, the lyrics and music mellowing and maturing, like the characters.

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Heeeey I also love Incurable Illness and Secrets can't tell! I am still slowly watching My Ahjusshi maybe that song you mentioned will grow on me too.

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Francisco Tarrega's 'Recuerdos de la Alhambra' is a gorgeous piece- and extremely difficult to play. The 'eeriness' stems from the use of an extended tremolo technique- one has to be a very good guitar player to even try it. It was not 'original' to the drama sound track, having been written over 120 years ago, but It is a great example of existing music being successfully used as part of the sound track to a drama. Many of the best soundtracks have done this and the effect can be even greater as we are often moved even more on hearing music that we already know- so it comes with added emotional punch.

You are right about over use of a song diminishing its effect.

And, darn it, sure enough "Almost Paradise" is now playing in my head.

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I got motivated to learn several piano pieces heard in kdramas, like Consolation No. 3 by Lizst (30 but 17) and Rondo in A Minor by Mozart (Secret Love Affair).
Memories of the Alhambra is too difficult for me, but I still found the score and learned to play parts of it.

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I think whether any ost is going to be my favorite depends on how much I like the show. If I like the show, I tend to like the songs that are associated with certain things, feelings, incidents in the show.

I am not a music person, so I listen to music sparingly. These are some of the songs I like:
1. Weighlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo - From Now On
2. Romance is a Bonus Book. - I Could Not See the Story (Jannabi)
3. DoTS - Everytime
4. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim - Walk On
5. Healer - Eternal Love, Run, When You Hold Me Tight
6. Yong Pal - Actually, I Am, So We Are, Coming To Me
7. Chocolate - Always Be Here, Special, etc

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Yes! Chocolate's OST is the latest addition to my kdrama playlist. Hotel del Luna also got some great ones

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Thank you for bringing back so many memories with Almost Paradise. And yes it started playing in my head as soon as I read the title. I actually liked the OST and even its overuse in One Spring Night but the only OST I've ever downloaded in my life is Another Oh Hea Young, As I've Waited, More by the Black Skirts.

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The songs that I end up liking tend to remind me of a character that I found to be quite memorable. Some that are still in my playlist are:
Growing Pains from The Heirs (Choi Young Do - Kim Woo Bin)
Only U from Uncontrollably Fond (Shin Joon Young - Kim Woo Bin)
All About You from Hotel Del Luna (Jang Man Wol - IU)
Heart from The Producers (Cindy - IU)
Starlight from The King Loves (Won, Rin and San - Im Si Wan, Hong Jong Hyun and Yoona)

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I've found that in almost every Kim Eun-sook drama there's gonna be that ONE song (terribly or well-used, but mostly terribly for me). A few are:

- "Appearance" by Kim Bum-soo in Secret Garden which is a close second to "Almost Paradise" for me.
- The Heirs OST was already mentioned
- And while the DOTS OST was in itself great, by the end of the show I couldn't listen to Yoon Mirae's "Always" anymore.
- On the other hand, Goblin had an amazing and well-used OST. To this day, I cannot listen to "And I'm Here" by Kim Kyung-hee without my heart twisting, because I immediately go back to Kim Shin turning to ashes. 😭

But beyond its use in dramas, for me K-drama OSTs is almost a genre on its own. There is something so distinct and atmospheric about these melodic ballads; and I find it hard to find this exact vibe in non-Korean ballads. So, I'd like to thank K-dramas with blessing me with so many great songs that I would've never discovered had I not watched them!

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Yes definitely OST's are a total different genre. It's hard to explain it to people how I listen to korean music but it's not kpop and hugely different from kpop or any kpop vibe. Ost's are very underrated, I like how they are not limited to concepts unlike kpop songs and it just good music in different forms and genres.

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Goblin OST is hands down my favorite. I use it as my study playlist and aghhh it's just so well done. Every time I listen to it, I can imagine the scenes where each scene was used. I love "Beautiful" as most people probably do, but my favorite is definitely is "I will go to you like the first snow". Ailee killed it in this song and it was used in such a pivotal moment of the show and takes my back to that scene whenever I listen to it *cries*. A recent fave has been "Can you see my heart" by Heize for the Hotel Del Luna OST. I love her voice and that soundtrack overall is amazing.

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Why no mention of Hotel del Luna's OST though?
I think they have the best OST list in 2019!

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Agreed

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Absolutely right.

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This is such a great post! Kdrama OSTs have been a staple in my playlists for years. I love when the soundtrack of a drama really suits the tone of the drama. Some of my favourites are:

1. Hwang Jin Yi - amazing songs and even more amazing instrumentals! Ha Ji Won was my favourite actress for years after watching this and I can still remember all the music and the dances they matched.
2. Princess Hours - awesome instrumentals as well which really suited the modern monarchy theme. Also loved the song "parrot" by Howl, as well as the classic "perhaps love"!
3. Another Oh Hae Young - seo hyun jin was so amazing in this and the songs "like a dream" by ben and "if it was you" by jung seung hwan really highlighted her feelings.
4. My girl - never say goodbye was so upbeat and catchy, which really suited lee da hae! Loved the sad song (which was sung by several singers and the title of which I can't remember) as well.
5. Delightful girl chun hyang - emergency room is a classic!
6. School 2015 - Reset and I'll listen to what you have to say both really suited the themes of the drama.
7. Scarlet heart - really loved forgetting you by davichi, everytime it came up I felt like crying! The rest of the ost, while nice songs on their own, were not really suited to the drama imo.
8. Hong gil dong - "if" by taeyeon will forever make me feel sad about what happened to hong gil dong and gang at the end :(
9. Iljimae - "flower letter" by park hyo shin and all the instrumentals were so good!
10. Dream high and dream high 2 - the theme song "dream high" is so uplifting! All the individual songs are amazing as well!
11. You're beautiful - "mal do eob shi" by 9th street

And then there are those dramas which I haven't watched, but the songs are so good that I listen to them on repeat anyway!
1. Descendants of the sun - "talk love" by k will and "everytime" by chen and punch always lift my spirits!
2. It's ok it's love - best luck by chen! Chen's voice is so suited to drama OSTs :)

Apart from korean dramas, some crdramas have amazing soundtracks as well! Some of my favourites are:
1. Eternal love - liang liang by zhang bi chen and yang zong wei is such a classic and was so popular when it was released. I played this song on repeat for months!
2. The untamed - wu ji by xiao zhan and wang yibo is not only a great song, but also holds so much meaning in the drama as the song which lan wangji composed. The instrumental versions using wei wuxian and lan wangji's signature instruments are so amazing as well. Qu jin chen qing by xiao zhan is also an awesome song!
3. The story of minglan - "zhi fou zhi fou" by hu xia and yu ke wei
4. Goodbye my princess - "chu jian" and "ai shang" suit the drama so much and the MVs are really well made as well!
5. Yanxi palace - "xue luo xia de sheng yin" by lu hu reminds me so much of the tragic fucha fuheng :(
6. Legend of chusen - "qing yi yao" by yu ke wei is amazing and...

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...really makes you feel for all the sacrifices biyao made for xiaofan!
7. Bloody romance - "yi sheng deng ni" is so well used in the drama!
8. Go go squid - "wu ming zhi bei" is really uplifting
9. Legend of yunxi - "tan yun xi" by ju jingyi
10. Journey of flower - "nian lun" by zhang bichen
11. Princess returning pearl - "dang" by dong li huo che is such a classic!

Off topic as well, but I also really love soundtracks from Japanese animated movies! Howl's moving castle, spirited away and your name have amazing instrumentals and songs.

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Gosh I completely forgot about My Girl, I loved this song, so dramatic. I remember joking how this would be my karaoke song 😂😂😂
https://youtu.be/nYFn_5EcLt4

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omg yes this is the song I was thinking of! Till this day seol gong chan and joo yoo rin are still my favourite kdrama otp <3

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Thank you for mentioning the songs from the era when I first became addicted to kdramas!

Yes to all those songs in Delightful Girl ChunHyung. My favorites were the sageuk-sounding one and the one by As One. They were songs that made me go these two kids are meant to be!!

Hwang JinYi's music was terrific. The one that has me hitting the replay button even before I started watching the drama was "Please Look at Me". So much yearning.

"If" by Taeyeon is also one of my favorites. It makes me recall the scene when Hong Gil Dong knocked Yi Nok out while they were being chased so that he could keep her safe. Of course, when she woke up, she was like "where is he?!" (so sad I can't bear to watch that drama again. damn you, Kang Ji Hwan!) So solemn and full of emotion at the same time; and Taeyeon was only 19 at the time when she sang it.

"Never Say Goodbye" from My Girl was so catchy and matched the mischievous Yoo-rin very well.

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Ah yes I love the song by As One as well! It reminds me of every time mong ryeong disappointed chun hyang, and also of their very very sweet "wedding" in their high school <3

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There haven't been too too many OSTs that have stood out in my memory thus far - though Goblin might be one if I had to pick. I actually didn't mind the overyplayed-ness of One Spring Night/SITR's OSTs... the songs kind of turned into characters themselves, like the Greek chorus.

I actually adored the My Country score. Not so much the OST songs (except Remember, cause it's so epic), but I found a lot of the instrumentals got me super into the mood of the show.

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I haven't watched many of the dramas mentioned here but from the ones I've watched I've loved every song of the OSTs of Boys Over Flowers, City Hunter and surprisingly Woohoo Waikiki. Then there have been single or a couple songs from every drama I've watched.
But my most favourite OST which is also a guilty pleasure is Arieband-Dumbhead from Fight for my Way. :P Its just so catchy and energetic! I also like the BTOB song Ambiguous and the HerCheck song Fight for My Way.
And have to hand it to Coffee Prince for giving a treasure trove of songs some of which I'm still discovering.

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Had to press "find in page" just to see if someone else still knows about coffee prince's ost..those were good 'ole' ones (shows my age and years in kdrama land as well hehe)

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My folder of 35GB Drama OST is a statememnt of so many great OST over the decade i've gathered and fell in love(and that i'm a OST hoarder) that i just can't name just one because i love way too many...In the recent years i realized i actually tend to be swayed more for the BGM's used in a drama as priority leaving the main songs as a side dish but being the type that when it falls for something i become sooo obsessed with it i would actually have the song play on my player x times and in my head as well so the wait for the release of the V.A is always the hardest and the most frustrating is when they don't include some bgm's they use(still hate u,I Miss You one in charge)...A good OST&BGM without any doubts elevated a drama for me and makes me cry more easily seeint me in that mood and bringing the tension and despair if in sync with the story...Among the 2019 memorable OST&BGM's for me are When The Devil Calls Your Name that elevated the drama way more and made it keep a special spot in my heart and made me cry quite a lot(The Day We First Met),Hotel DeLuna,Arthdal Chronicals,Class Of Lies,Nokdu,Perfume,WWW,Psychometric,Possession,The Wind Blows,ExtraOrdinary You,My Country,Catching The Ghost,Justice,Chocolate...

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When watching kdramas I savor the melodies as much as I can because they are in korean and i cannot understand a single word of it. There are also quite a lot that irritated me with too much repetition that has become distraction. There are only 2 soundtracks that I truly liked so far that I have to go to youtube to search for them and those are: Satellite Love in Chicago Typewriter and The Ship and The Globe in It's OK That's Love. Satellite Love is so lyrical it is perfect for the kdrama. The latter song...? If someone enjoys it like I do, please, please someone please help me describe the feeling when listening to this song. It's such a happpy feeling.

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I'm going to go back to Hyun Bin's earlier dramas "My Name is Kim Sam Soon" and Clazziquai's "She Is." Ooh, remembering every time that song played after a character just made a big emotional gesture or revelation.

Also, remembering Princess Hours/Goong soundtrack was also well-fitting. I found the instrumentals very memorable like the "A Dancing Teddy" and of course, titular "Perhaps Love."

Hwayugi's soundtrack songs were also memorable for me.

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"She is" is so memorable. It's also another song that stands the test of time. It doesn't seem dated but is fitting for everytime . But well even MNIKSS was ahead of its time.

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I agree with you on so many points.
Theme song of Mishil (https://youtu.be/qmYItuqnjyI) still gives me the chill to this day, and that old and modern instrumental from Queen In Hyun's Man (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjTiCikgtrg) still gives me all the fuzzy feelings. I like all the OST of that drama.

I remember listening to "Let It Go" so many times before I actually got to see the movie. By the time I saw it, strangely I had a negative reaction to it. Same goes with "My Heart Will Go On", and I LOVE Celine Dion.

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Great write-up, missvictrix!

I love listening to OST ballads, even ones from dramas I haven’t seen. The singers just seem to pour lots of emotion in them and they sound more heart-wrenching than usual.

Like K.Will. I’ll check out all of his OST songs. Hehe

I like that I get to discover new artists from their OSTs too. Or listen to artists I had overlooked. Good exposure for them, especially when they are a part of a big hit drama.

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One of my favorite OST’s strangely enough, even though I never even finished the drama is every day, every moment by Paul Kim in Should we kiss first? I also loved all the OSTs in Moonlovers: Scarlet heart, they were all so good! Also anything by Ailee! ( Carry on, Because of tears) 🥰

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Eternal Love (Healer) and The Man (Secret Garden) are still on my “mood” playlist. Good article

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I prefer the instrumental background music in my kdramas. My favorites are the instrumentals in Secret Love Affair, Chuno, Heartless City, Misty, Money Flower, Rebel, and My Country.
I also like the use of traditional instruments and songs in dramas. Six Flying Dragons, Rebel, and Chuno are outstanding in that regard.

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