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[2022 Year in Review] Tell us about your year in dramas

Somehow it’s December already, and that means it’s the official kickoff of our year-end drama extravaganza — and this post starts it all. *confetti*

Join us as we say goodbye to 2022 by looking back at the year in dramas. You can look forward to essays from the team as we do our own reflecting, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts and musings as well.

 

Tell us about your year in dramas! Share your reflections and perspectives, your K-drama highs and lows; share what moved you.

 
To submit:

  • Email your submissions to hello @ dramabeans.com. If you have a registered Dramabeans account, include your handle so we can link to it.
  • Include at least 1 image, though more are preferred.
  • Suggested length: Between 500 and 1,000 words.
  • Deadline: We will post these on a rolling basis, so we’re taking submissions starting now! We will cut off accepting submissions on December 24.

 
PS: Don’t forget to utilize the 2022 Year in Review tag for easy access to all the festivities this year!

 
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The year 2022 was a small harvest for good Kdramas.

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I think overall the BIG shows with A-list talent and production values have been trending towards anti-climatic or disappointing while some lesser shows (in talent or network) were better. For most of the year, the KBS weekenders have been bad.

I think the western investment by Netflix and Disney have changed the k-drama model too much, such as having second seasons. K-dramas were good when they had a strong beginning, compelling middle and a final ending.

It was also a year where actors off-set behavior and scandals adversely impacted their shows to a greater degree than just changing actors. It was also a year with very few break-out, buzzworthy new stars (especially under the age 30).

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I often wonder how the K-drama/K-pop world will handle their aging stars because it is such a youth oriented business with most storylines focusing on characters in their late twenties/early 30's. It seems the industry is aware of this, but I'm not sure what the industry will do. In terms of k-pop, what will happen to BTS as they enter the army and come out as 30 year old men? As for dramas most of the big stars are now in their 40's or getting awfully close! I see the industry trying to create breakout young stars with the casting with some success (Lee Jae-Wook casted alongside a much more mature actress Jung So-min) , but the biggest names remain more mature. And even those young stars will age.

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Actors born in the late 90s/2000s probably aren't going to be household names like the seniors before them. There are too many options for dramas that you can be viewing at any one time. For young actors' fame - it's just a flash in the pan until the next viral thing. But there are more work opportunities now, so that sort of makes up for it.

I do wonder about the aging actors and idols as well. I hope the industry is encouraging more stories to be told about people outside of the usual age range. There are a lot of Gen X and millenials and older zoomers (and maybe even boomers too!) who still enjoy these actors and that's a huge demographic.

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That is a said thought about younger actors. It does seem like a kind of disposable rather then sustainable business model right now. Sometimes I wonder if that is one of the reasons that Korean entertainment scandals can destroy careers in a way that US scandals don't even make a dent. But, perhaps, BTS will change that since they have so much potential to make more money. That may force the industry to let some of their stars age. Hopefully that will keep some of my favorite actors/actresses employed!!! And, give us some more interesting, age diverse stories to watch!

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I think it is easier for singer to have a longer, sustained career than actors (especially actresses who hit 40 and no longer are considered lead material). Singers can change genres, schedule festivals and perform music besides making singles and albums.

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there are actually lot of gen2 idols (read: over 30) thriving out there, Super Junior and Girl's Generations members, to say some. many of them have branched out and are in demand actor, mc, etc covering the entertainment spectrum...

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This is the first year where I felt just too overwhelmed with just how many dramas are out there to watch. All of the competing streaming services had me throwing up my arms in frustration. I've become a much less loyal watcher to my shows. I may have stuck with a show through a tough start or iffy middle in the past, but now I just move on to something else. And, I think that has the effect of me enjoying shows less because usually it is the imperfect art that is the most satisfying art. As is my usual habit, I read the NYtimes before starting work in the morning. Today, they had their yearly best TV shows from this year and there were no K-dramas on the list. I know this is a NY based paper so it doesn't speak for many, but it is probably the most influential paper in the US in terms of arts/entertainment reviews. There is a lot of competition out there now from all over the world. K-dramas had made quite the splash in the last few years both critically and through popularity so I was sorry to not see any on the list (but, I'm not sure there were any that deserved to be on the list).

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Agreed. My attention span has dropped a lot recently as I'm more worried about what's to come rather than what's right in front of me! I drop shows A LOT quicker than I used to..

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This is such a good point which I missed for myself, thinking it was my own aging attention span or just too many years of accumulated kdramas in my brain cells. Thanks, I feel better, while still sad, about connecting less and less to kdramas.

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Even worse, the only kdrama mention in the NYT review was a ding against the self-conscious cuteness of Extraordinary Attorney Woo (ouch)

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Stranger made the NYT top ten list of international series a few years ago but the review was really condescending (and I suspect the reviewer didn't actually watch the show), so I don't put much stock in their kdrama tastes.

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I don't put much stock in NYT reviews for ANYTHING any more. Their heads are in the clouds.

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I'm always careful with NYtimes reviews as they tend towards the serious and depressing. But, it was the NYtimes that led me to kdramas when they had some articles that highlighted kdramas some years ago. So, I'm ever grateful and remain a daily reader.

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I saw that article about the best tv series of the year, and was heartened to see how many people in the comments section disagreed with the author’s assessment of Extraordinary Attorney Woo, saying they’d loved the show. Even better, some commenters called out the critic for being condescending and tone-deaf to Korean culture.

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That was quite a ding! I actually dropped Attorney Woo and reading that ding made me feel a little better. I felt kind of guilty that I didn't like the drama when so many did enjoy it. Those critics are tough!

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You are not alone in feeling guilty dropping Attorney Woo. The charm started to run out at midpoint.

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Yes, it did. I stopped mid point. It is unpopular to say, but I didn't like the character portrayal of Attorney Woo. And at some point, I found the metaphor with whales and the aha moments grating (wind blown hair). Ah well!!

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I'm surprised the media is was even taking an interest. Perhaps it's been the effect of popular Korean movies like Parasite or Squid Games? And I agree about the itch you feel to move on when your attention lags, but this could also be a sign that kdramas are not the magical formula they used to be. Actually I think your comment underscores the point made in the comments earlier up by '@2 welh' about how the Dramas funded by Netflix and Disney have fundementally changed the Kdramas we all began to love, (seven years ago for me). Absolutely agree that the "strong beginning, compelling middle and final ending" stories that they told so well before have succumbed the western taste for as many seasons as can be wrung out of one story concept with an ever-recurring cast. The single story arc that Korean Dramas presented us over the years with were more satisfying, like finishing a good meal. Today nothing seems to have a real ending, perhaps in the hopes that a next season will arrive to pick up the cliffhanger threads left hanging in the story and knit up a new season....over and over and over. Don't get me wrong here. I'll read a series of books, but I love the single novel best. I get to jump into more work backgrounds, family structures and problems, the lives of the privileged as well of those living on the edges of society and yes, get to see the chemistry between many more romantic pairings than if we followed one couple every season. Netflix has also 'darkened' the tone of kdramas a bit. Not that Kdramas don't produce awesome serious-themed shows, but I've noticed lately there's a bigger percentage of police precedurals, legal shows, as well as horror and action on the Netflix shelves recently. I accept that we must face change...but if you consider how much input Netflix has on the production for some shows, plus just how seductive it must be for a Korean Scriptwriter or Director to skew their stories toward western audience tasstes so that a lucrative sale might be made later to Disney or Netflix. Yes there's been change, but it hasn't been very organic...just profitable.

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This is probably the year with the fewest beans, for me. Looking forward to the year-end posts!

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What a year!!

I watched quite a lot this year unlike the year before. I managed to jump past stupid dramas cuz reviews from here and Reddit saved me a lot of stress. I also deliberately refused to watch some popular dramas because of the popularity. Let's me just say, too much popularity makes flaws look appeasing and I did not regret it. Twenty-five Twenty-one, One Beloved Summer, Alchemy of Souls, Under the Queen's Umbrella, and others laid a mark on me this year, I appreciate their presence and I wish other writers could learn from them.

As for the tropey ones, learn please, I thought we were all living in the 21st century, aren't we? But sometimes you need the tropes to survive though.

And one more thing, the so-called English speaking actors were meh 😒 this year!! Looking at you UEE cuz you made me fast forward your scenes a lot in Ghost Doctor.

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This was actually a really good drama year for me. I watched too many dramas but more or less found something to like in all of them. I think there were more dramas I really, really liked this year than in some previous years.

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I guess I’m in the opposite end of the spectrum from @missh. I only watched 4 Kdramas that aired this year because I think the majority of them were not something I liked. The dramas I finished are 2521, A Business Proposal, Sh**ting Stars, The Sound of Magic.

If there is one word I’d give to the overall impression of Kdramas this year from me who loves light-hearted, fun and romantic TV shows it’d be ‘bleak’ for Kdramas in general.

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‘ If there is one word I’d give to the overall impression of Kdramas this year from me who loves light-hearted, fun and romantic TV shows it’d be ‘bleak’ for Kdramas in general.’ 👈 thank you for saying this, I agree the dramas were often unnecessarily dark in terms of the main genre.

Love in Contract; murder case and stalker attack in the early episodes didn't not need to be there, Cheer up; prophesy storyline unnecessary in a coming of age rom com, One Dollar lawyer had a really light half that could have been carried through.

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Yes. Even when I didn’t begin any of the shows you mentioned, I feel tired already hearing about these dark, unnecessary subplots.

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I actually tend to like darker shows, but I also didn't find much in K-drama world that I enjoyed this year. It just seemed like a weak year period, irrespective of genre.

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I never tried C and J dramas before and I tried both including Brazilian this year, it has been indeed a weak year for me for K ones.

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I am looking forward to reading these posts. This year I have watched a lot of older dramas and enjoyed most of those although some of the tropes from the older dramas didn't age well. I have had a small number of on air watches that I have enjoyed most of the way through but quite a few have been disappointing and I have endured for the bean or reluctantly given up as time is way too precious and the sole purpose of drama watching is to have some light entertainment.

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I also continued watching older dramas but I trace an actor that I like to see their earlier works.

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I also will trace an actor I like to check out their older works. But in cases where their new dramas are disappointing, I sometimes go back and rewatch old dramas of theirs just so I keep clear in my head what it is about that actor/actress that I adore

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I watched older dramas as well this year.

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This was not a great year for K-dramas for me personally, although there are few I've heard good things about that I haven't checked out yet but probably will (Under the Queen's Umbrella, Through the Darkness, Alchemy of Souls if season 2 doesn't crash and burn). I found myself watching more shows from other Asian countries instead, and with the exception of The Red Sleeve, all my favorites that I watched this year were non-Korean.

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This is the year where I felt the first stirrings of boredom with some conventional kdrama tropes, and I didn't make it through more dramas than I completed. It used to be that I could and would find something to enjoy in almost any drama I watched, but during the past several months I've felt that my expectations are just higher now.

This is also the year during which I found not one, but two, Park Min Young dramas that I couldn't get through. First time that has happened.

That said, when I found a drama I loved this year, I really, really loved it. I still think about "My Liberation Notes," "Our Beloved Summer," Little Women," and "Alchemy of Souls," "Red Sleeve," and (most of) "Twenty Five/Twenty One" (still not over the ending) with a kind of awe and a longing for more. And for the first time, I truly enjoyed a full-on comedic kdrama--"Gaus."

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Every year seems worse than the year before, but still, I thought it was a pretty solid year despite not seeing that many kdramas compared to the vast amount of output. We've now got a new channel in the mix - ENA, Coupang Play, and TVING stream-only series are joining lineup. And the industry is exploring different genres and accommodating storytelling other than the usual man and woman in their 20s-early 30s fall in love. Not all actors like or are even good at the romance genre so this gives them more opportunities. And it gives older actors more opportunities. I loved May It Please the Court, which made the romance something that is hinted at rather than an overt thing where they have to awkwardly squeeze in a week #4 kiss.

Also yes to more ensembles and interesting side characters. I like feeling that my time isn't wasted while watching the non-lead characters. Sh**ting stars had weak ratings and didn't get a lot of buzz either, but it nailed the fun ensemble aspect.

I'd love more fantasy worlds. I thought Alchemy of Souls was really cool in that it bringing something different to the fantasy genre in kdramas - using a made-up world with its own culture and leaning more heavily on the fantasy aspect. The Hong sisters may stumble, but at least they're doing something different. However, stuff like this needs a big budget so I can see why there are so many lawyer dramas instead.

What I do dislike this year is how some of the dramas are exclusive Disney+ Korea releases. I am a Disney+ subscriber in the US so it felt unfair.

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Yeah, the whole Disney+ arrangement makes me grumpy too - I'm happy to pay to access content legally, but it's frustrating when companies make that impossible.

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Very much looking forward to all the good writing to come on this topic, I think you all are brilliant! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

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Watched a lot of kdrama content this year. The highlights for me were Alchemy of Souls, A Business Proposal, My Beloved Summer, there are probably others that don't come to mind now. More disappointing were the ones started but dropped for one reason or another. And there are too many of those to mention.

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This is only my second year in dramaland, but I have learned and watched a lot.
I watched more dramas while they aired, or a few weeks after. I am dissapointed with Wookie and SIG last dramas, but I have discovered new oppas (new to me, but this is not so difficult).
Somehow, despite the abundance of kdramas available to me, I started to explore cdramas. I'm not sure what resonate more (republicain costumes ? silly, light and fun romcom so absurd that I laught ?) but the rythm of drama-watching is a little higher. And I'm still not over Love like the galaxie.

What is very precious to me is this site and the discussions. It's so good to be able to share and discuss the dramas. I'm not all alone in my mindspace, thank you all beanies.

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Thank you to you, too, Darwi. I’ve seen some mentioning Love like a Galaxy so I’ve listed that in my long list of to-watch dramas.

If you’re into a melancholic and bittersweet tone, I just finished First Love, a J drama with beautiful cinematography on Netflix. It has 9 episodes and each so is about an hour long.

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Thanks for the recommendation.
I have yet to watch a Jdrama... do I want to open another rabbit hole ?

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Oh you shouldn’t! 😅 Let’s take things slowly.

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I can’t say this was a good year for kdramas. Good dramas were far few in between and even the ones I liked initially didn’t sustain till the end.
Adamas was probably the best thing that happened this year, for me. I have fewer beans this year.

I did have some success with cdrama's. Under the skin, Reset, Disappearing Child, Legally Romance and Because of Love were all dramas I enjoyed.

Hope 2023 is better for me.

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Legally romance introduced me to Z Tao, who is now well present in my playlists.
It's not the first time watching "TV" introduced me to new artist, but this one is a bit more puzzling for my familly...
Thinking about it, how is it "normal" to listen to US-music but strange to listen to Korean or Chinese music ? I have no link whatsoever on either side...

On the dramas sides, the leads are too young in Reset or I was not in the good mood to enjoy and finish it.
Under the skin is on my next-watch list. And I'll check the two others, thanks.

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I loved Z Tao’s voice. Even his hair grew on me, LOL.
I don’t understand a word but I do enjoy some k and c music, especially OST’s since I have certain feels associated with that song/music.

Reset - I love BJT. I recommend You are my Hero. You will see him differently after you see this drama.

Under the skin was my top fav this year. I really loved it. It used art interestingly in the context of crime.
Because of Love is a bit melo and sometimes feels makjang. But for some reason the leads sold it to me. Worth trying to see if you will like it.

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Yeah, Z Tao hair is something. :)
I'm starting to recognise and understand some expressions in both languages. But other than dramas'OST I have not find k music to my liking.

I have started You are my hero... and did not recognise the lead. He is way too skinny for a military officer... The overdose of good sentiments made me pause this drama. It's cute, but not funny enough to keep my attention. I will give these drama another try, also in an effort to finish.

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I guess it's time to go back to Cdramas xD but where's the time?

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Recently I feel all cdramas are costume :)
The very few modern ones I see on Iqiyi didn’t work for me. Problem with cdramas is that there are too many dramas coming out. To figure out which ones to try is tricky. And I do end up dropping a lot after first two episodes. Like you said - time! need more time for dramas.

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Costume cdramas aren't really my go-to. I did try a few this year but ended up dropping them, same with modern.

Always a dilemma, time for dramas. But somehow, we make it work.

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I didn't watch a single Korean drama this year, not even an old one. I'm relying on you all to provide recommendations as to the best ones, and I'll queue them up for next year when I study Korean. Thanks, people. I've been watching Japanese things this year, since I'm studying Japanese.

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I was off dramas for a while after my roomba knocked over my TV and broke the screen, but I got back in eventually starting with Risky Romance (and a bit of the Japanese series Samurai Cat) and now playing catchup.

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Samurai Cat! That was so much fun.

I've seen murderous roombas in dramas, but not in real life. 😧

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I might have watched more dramas but these are all I could think of..All of Us Are Dead (not sure this is from 2022), 2521, My Liberation Note, Pachinko, Woo Young Woo and the last but not least, Little Women.

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Is there a good place to check a list of what aired in 2022? Seems like the year kind of blew through, but I'm sure I watched a butt load of kdramas. I'll rely on wikipedia for a basic list!

This year I definitely took the opportunity to drop a show, forgoing the bean if it wasn't working for me, which was a nice change. There's only so much time and such a glut of content both korean and otherwise that I tried not to waste it on unworthy shows.

I have to say that there are a lot of great shows, but even more that I found amazing at first, and then just good by the end.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo and 25 to 21 come immediately to mind. Some STRONG moments, and I rewatched the early episodes of these ones a few times but I felt the endings were either lackluster or missed some good opportunities to close out strong.

I enjoyed some of the Netflix offerings, such as All of Us Are Dead, Glitch, and The Sound of Magic, but was disappointed by others like Somebody. There were also some DARK offerings not by Netflix, like The King of Pigs that were unsettling, but kept me watching.

I learned the value of patience, waiting for the subtitles team to finish Tracer, rather than suffer through auto translated horribleness (thank you Taxpayers sub team!).

Disney+ disappointed me with pretty much all their shows I can think of (though I'm going to check out Pachinko over the next week and heard pretty solid things about that).

Lots of cracky rom com goodness, and disappointments. A Business Proposal was fun, as was Shooting Stars, but there were ALSO some pitfalls, like Love is For Suckers (man...and I liked both these leads, too bad).

Spreading the net wide and far though, this is typical of the results I expect. Some good, some great, and some AWFUL. Here's looking forward to 2023 :)

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My year started with the non-Kdrama world coming off the high of 'Squid Game' and going crazy over the series 'All Of Us Are Dead' and 'My Name' (actually started Oct last year but discovered post-Squid Game). Non-K-drama world then discovered 'Extraordinary Attorney Woo'.

My spring was dominated by 'My Liberation Notes' (up until *that* final episode). I was entertained by 'Glitch' and thoroughly charmed by 'Gaus Electronics'.

Besides these few sparkling gems there was a lot of treading water.

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Is it just me, or have Kdramas lurched this year toward more explicit (though still muted) sex, and longer and more intense kiss scenes. I think of Law Cafe's FL and the contract she drew up for the ML to sign demanding an orgasm. Or Yumi's Cells 2. My thought is that with ratings dropping, writers are seeing how far they can go with this. Sex sells. Throw in some r-rated scenes and you don't have to work as hard to produce a good script. Am I being too cynical?

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It does seem like there’s been a bit of a shift but I wonder if it’s more to do with blurring the line of what’s in tv/what’s in film? From Korean movies I’ve seen (admittedly not many) and things I’ve heard, it seems a lot more has been acceptable in Korean cinema for a long time so maybe with the rise of streaming, the line of what’s ok for tv vs what’s ok for movies is shifting. I think that’s something we’ve seen internationally.

(Of course, that doesn’t rule out that it’s happening because it draws attention amid a sea of thousands of dramas)

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This 100%. It's just relaxed broadcasting restrictions.

Also, I'll just say that drama fans always complained in the past about drama relationships being too chaste... people still complain about that, actually. Korean netizens make fun of it, too.

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This has been my first year watching Asian dramas (I wish I had started sooner). I have watched around 70 k-dramas and one C-drama, released between 2009 and 2022.
But among them, only these ones are from 2022:
- Business Proposal. 7/10
- Soundtrack #1. 6'5/10
- Yumi's cells 2. 8/10
- Once upon a small town. 7/10
- Seasons of Blossom. 8/10
- Love between Fairy and Devil. 8'5/10
- Weak Hero Class 1. 9/10

It seems to me that I'm loving older k-dramas more than new ones. I have fallen in love with dramas like Queen Seon Deok, Flower Boy Next Door, Misaeng, Live up to your name... Anyway, this has been a great year because I have entered Dramaland. And I have so much yet to see!

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