Beanie level: Fan club president

Korea follows up the splashier Squid Game with a searing indictment on those who only care about themselves during a pandemic

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of 해피니스: Happiness Series Review

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    Well done!
    I’m now watching Uncle which has another set of status and property-value-crazed apartment owners vs renters. It’s been a “good” couple of years for kdrama making me hate humanity 🙃 Not that the US isn’t already doing that in spades.

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    Never thought to compare it to Parasite, but wow

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I finish off 2021 with a short discussion of the changes to Korean writing over the past few years.
2021: The Year of Doing

Stories of Being, Stories of Doing: 2021 The Year of Doing

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    Yours is now my top destination for insightful (and funny) posts about K-dramas. How in the world you are not writing for DM, is beyond me. I just dived deep into Invisible Pink Dragon posts (assiduously avoiding BE tag, lol), and posted a bunch of comments. Yours is the voice I fear is lacking nowadays in DB. I’m so glad I discovered your blog, and have some awesome readings to do! This year is starting nicely so far!

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good drama watching

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I discuss why I won’t be watching the new drama, Snowdrop

To watch or not to watch: Snowdrop

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    Thanks for linking that Twitter thread.
    I had heard of the protest against it, but hadn’t looked to much into it.
    It’s actually kind of sickening, especially the father character.
    My pessimistic side is now wondering if it’s part of the reason Jisoo was hired for the lead role, that almost automatic fan support.
    But their are some big names in it and I’m wondering why they all agreed. International audiences may not care, but it has potential to harm their names within Korea.

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      They totally hired Jisoo for that blind international fan support. It sure wasn’t for those “amazing” acting skills seeing as it’s her first acting role. Her fans will eat up whatever this show says blindly just because she’s in it. It’s deeply insidious but also kind of brilliant. What better way to spread right-wing revisionist history and propaganda than through a beloved celebrity?

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        I’ve seen this take on Twitter as well and I wish I didn’t find it compelling but i do.
        I can’t wait for the drama portraying Hitler as someone who just loves art but is forced to do genocide while his daughter has a romance with a Jewish banker who wants to control the world’s economic markets.

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          Every word in that sentence gave me whiplash. Unfortunately, your joke premise is not that far off. There was a movie in 2018 that featured a romance between a Black girl and a Hitler Youth member. The “free speech” people tried their hardest to defend this movie too.

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            Jesus Christ

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            I haven’t seen that 2018 film, Where Hands Touch, but from the Wikipedia entry it sounds quite different from Snowdrop. The Nazi boy might have been romanticised, but the girl and her situation sound pretty realistic to me. I’m also a fan of the earlier work of the writer/director, Amma Asante.

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    Even without reading this LT I am already not watching it

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    Thanks for this. I was really put off when I read the character descriptions and rather glad the drama isn’t available in my region.

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    I was really surprised the production didn’t make any changes knowing all eyes were on them. The first episode seemed to contain 2 different dramas, a campus romcom and a political thriller. I wonder why they couldn’t just make it the former without opening old wounds, surely it would be successful enough with those leads. Not sure if I’ll continue watching.

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#2021 Drama Roundup
Day 16: Best non-human character

This is an easy one as we all know this was the Year of the Lighter.
Ode to a Lighter
Oh, flame controlled
Encased in silver and gold
We sing this song to your infernal power
Constrained but ready
A tiny powerpack to scour
Our world; now brighter, cleaner
And is our drama year-er

As Rachel Patten said, "I may only have a small (lighter) but I can make an explosion"
Vincenzo may have won Best Lighter this year but let’s not forget it’s fiery competition.

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Day 15: Sageuk Special Edition
Hahahaha

Joseon Idol 2021: Somebody else’s year in kdrama

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    Without sageuks I wouldn’t have my Stabby OTP™.

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    On a more serious note, I have a deeper understanding of politics and monarchies thanks to the few sageuks I’ve watched.

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    Yep, it was MY year. Sorry, Chingu. 😉

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    Love the post and it’s 2PM theme! 🤣😆

    My favorite:
    You all loved Bossam and Red Sleeve Cuff and Lovers Of the Red Sky was a glorious trainwreck and every member of 2PM has trooped across your TV screen in hanbok.

    And this just sums up sageuk for me:

    It has been a good year for people who just love trying to work out which is the Right Left Chief State Minster of Rites and whether Beard 1 is evil or if it’s actually Beard 5. And aren’t Beard 2 and 3 the same person?

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    Thank you for this! Every sageuk seems the same to me. The only ones I’ve actually enjoyed were seven day queen and tale of nokdu (although that got messy towards the end).

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Day 14: Pepper Company

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#2021 Drama RoundupDay 13: Drama beanies loved that you didn\’t/ drama you loved that Beanies didn\’t

Last year was a big year for me hating everything you loved and loving everything you were indifferent to. This year my Patented Minority Opinions (PMOs) are mostly around dramas you loved that I didn\’t. I\’ll just stick to two and in the process no doubt shock and horrify some people. You asked so here it comes…

1. Imitation. The plot was basically Boys Over Flowers and I increasingly disliked how the drama was pretending to critique the music industry while secretly romanticising it. So while most Beanies loved it, I did not and in fact dropped it

2. Move to Heaven. This is a little unfair since I did like this show, it was nice. But with its heavy-handed Very Special Episode tone, it felt emotionally manipulative. This sense got worse over its run until it lost me completely. By the time our male lead was rescuing his Uncle from an underground Fight Club using his Very Special Autism Powers, I had stepped off the Move to Heaven train. So while I liked it, I didn\’t love it like others and this is probably my biggest PMO.

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    “Patented Minority Opinions” is brilliant.

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    I am so happy that someone felt the same way about Move To Heaven. I couldn’t get to the second episode because it seemed that the show badly wanted to make me cry but didn’t exactly know how.

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    I liked Move to Heaven quite a lot but it was manipulative, after a few eps I just decided to ignore that and go with it. I like weirdos too much to let some heavy hand at sentimentality bother me.

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    Move to heaven: didn´t hate it, just have no feelings for it. It is not even like dating when you are bored, it is like going on a date with someone I wish I had just stood up.

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      or not even wish… you just forget your date is there. and only thinking of eating ice cream at home.

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#2021 Drama Round-up
Day 12. Best quote/oneliner

The best quote? Or the best quote I saw today in a year where I can barely remember last week.
Either way, #Happiness is a warm gun.

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    pretty much like it was in Train To Busan as well. Who preserves humanity and who gives in to selfish instincts. Just like with this pandemic, how some people think their rights are above other peoples´ safety.

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#2021 Drama Round-up
Day 11. Secondary character that stole my heart and the show

This is a hard one and like most questions about this drama year I had to wrack my brains a little. But then it came to me like the ray of sunshine this character was in You Are My Spring.

Ga-young was a delight from beginning to end and definitely stole the show.

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It’s that time of year when we try to wrap everything up in a nice little bow and deliver it to you as an uncomplicated gift. Here it is! Your year in Kdrama! All the 2021 results for our annual poll

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Day 10: Best Confession
Do you mean – murder confession?
Was there romance this year?

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    For real! And I didn’t even watch thrillers this year.

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    Well, considering most romcoms feel the need to include a serial killer subplot…

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Every year I do an end of year post from the lighter side of things. This year my target is all those Sageuks.

Joseon Idol 2021: Somebody else’s year in kdrama

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    For somone who doesn’t like sageuks, you watch a lot of them :p

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    Lmaooo~
    Technically, every second year is the Year of the Sageuk- I’m not joking, the number of sageuks basically doubles and then drops again in a biennial cycle, so your Covid Theory is nice, but not accurate.

    I personally, because I’m possibly a bit weird, I dunno, like gats so much if I could buy one, I legitimately would, but even so, I would still give up buying a gat for a good 3K sageuk.

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      If I win the lottery I will buy you a gat. If not, I would absolutely fund a good 3K Sageuk because, despite my gripes, there’s some narrative meat there that hasn’t been picked over until it’s just bones.

      I feel like this year has an unusual number of Sageuks even for a Sageuk year.

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        And it’s not over! 2 are coming just for you 😀

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        I would be eternally grateful. For either of those things. haha
        Some narrative meat? Just some? Well I guess for a non sageuk fan maybe only some, but for me, so much, you have no idea haha.

        I think I worked out a Sageuk Year has on average 10/11 sageuks; I think this year has 12, depending on whether you count the ones that only start airing in Dec, so about on average, maybe just a bit over.
        I think it just feels like a lot, maybe cos there were so many significant ones, or scandalous ones? hah.

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      You are right.
      Recently 2019 was a very good sageuk year. Just the ones I watched: THE CROWNED CLOWN, KINGDOM, HEACHI, NOKDU FLOWER, ARTHDAL CHRONICLES, JOSEON SURVIVAL, and MY COUNTY.

      2020 was sparse: I watched QUEEN: LOVE AND WAR, KINGDOM 2, THE KING: ETERNAL MONARCH, and KINGMAKER: THE CHANGE OF DESTINY. (Maybe TK:EM should not be included. )

      2021 has been a banner sageuk year: My viewing RIVER WHERE THE MOON RISES (dropped), JOSEON EXORCIST (cancelled), BOSSAM: STEAL THE FATE, SECRET ROYAL INSPECTOR & JOY, THE RED SLEEVE and I anticipate working in the 2 upcoming sageuks, THE KING OF TEARS, LEE BANG WON and MOONSHINE. (I passed on a number of sageuks throughout the year.)

      2022 (so far) sageuk/historical previews: KBS’s RED SINGLE HEART, tvN’s UMBRELLA, Netflix’s THIEF: THE SOUND OF THE SWORD and tvN’s JOSEON PSYCHIATRIST YOO SE POONG.

      Then there is the HONG SISTERS’ RETURN/HWAN HON. It has been difficult trying to nail down information on this drama.

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        What is this “TKEM” of which you speak?

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        It’s hard to know whether to include fusions sometimes isn’t it haha.
        I wouldn’t include TKEM myself. As far as I know, it’s total AU fantasy, not even a half/half fusion like Live Up to Your Name or Queen In Hyun’s Man.

        2020 was indeed so sparse! I had the idea that some channels plan a bigger sageuk only every second year, potentially due to costs, but I don’t know if that checks out, it was just a thought I had.

        All I know about the Hongs new drama is that it’s supposed to be pre Joseon fantasy, possibly fusion, and Lee Jae Wook is lead. Which is bad for me because its my genre and era! but it’s the Hongs… sigh.

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          I mean, again, even though it contradicts an entire thing I just wrote I do see fusion as being its own genre. On paper there may be a lot of Sageuks this year but a lot of them are fusion. It feels like they’re turning dramas they’d otherwise make and set in modern times into fusion Sageuks, which is what led to my Covid theory.

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            I do agree at least that several of this years Sageuks are just modern dramas in hanbok.
            Genre is a bit of a fickle beast, and sageuk often is just a broad term for anything historical, so whilst I prefer to just subgenre it to oblivion, I do see where you’re coming from.

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    I found out yesterday that they changed the English name of Yoo Seung-ho’s drama to ‘Moonshine’. It’s actually a pretty smart name given the theme of the drama but I’m sad we can no longer make fun of the name 😔

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    I love your photo captions!! Hahahahaha

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    So funny—I read this frantically, and it was funnier! I do love sageuks—sad you didn’t mention how impossibly pretty everyone who is not a minister or peasant is. I’m still getting a handle on my year—to submit to DB. Real life sucked and I’m sure an inaccurate historical sageuk probably could capture the feeling of it.

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    The captions 😂

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    Comment was deleted

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    Happy Birthday Dame Judi (Dench).

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    “ Everyone questioning their sexuality, including the audience”

    Best line.

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Day 9: The oldie you loved the most
Let me sing a song of INAR INAR INAR
Just kidding.
Earlier in the year after Mr Queen’s glorious unhinged fusion Saguek, I decided to do another dive into Tale of Nokdu and Rookie Historian, both of which I completely flove. But while Nokdu is just as fun and brilliantly Shakespearian as I remember, I have a new appreciation for Rookie, which was much less uneven and true to its themes of the modern intersecting the traditional.
Also, it making its male lead a pot plant redolent of classic female leads is still my favourite narrative decision ever.

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Day 8: The drama Beanies made you watch and you’re grateful
Ooh, this is hard as I’m a cantankerous and contrarian old Dame. I’m going to go with Vincenzo, which on paper sounded ridiculous. Instead it was… ridiculous but in exactly the right way.

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    The writer and esp the director has made all the chaos and ridiculousness very coherent and enjoyable.

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Wondering if it is too late to vote in our End of Year Poll?
It is not!
And looking at the data so far, your vote will absolutely count.

2021 in Kdrama: The End of Year Poll

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Day 6: The OST I’m obsessed with

One of the best things about 2021 has been the amazing, extraordinary soundtracks we got this year.

From Beyond Evil’s perfect crooning underbelly to Vincenzo’s gleeful, operatic score and Human Disqualification’s pensive tinkering, we got some amazing music this year. Not just good songs or ear worms but perfect musical representations of the dramas they were in.

But as to which one I’m obsessed with, well, I was inspired to write about both Beyond Evil and Human Disqualification. But considering how often I listened to Hallejuah (and how much I already loved that song) then I guess that Human Disqualification wins.

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#2021RoundUp
Day 5 – The drama that will always live in your memory

Yeah, 2021 is just not that kind of drama year.
And I have thoughts on this, thoughts that I am mostly saving for my end of year poll wrap-up post. But it goes something like this – 2021 was a good drama year. It was. The fact that there are so many contenders for Best Drama and not that many for Worst Drama says that it was a good drama year. But it wasn’t a great drama year.
It wasn’t a year where we can name several iconic, groundbreaking dramas that will stay with us. There’s no My Ajusshi or Forest of Secrets or even a Sky Castle. Even the amazing Beyond Evil didn’t quite nail it (and if you haven’t watched it, you absolutely need to. For Shin Ha-kyun’s performance alone).
There are dramas that we enjoyed and dramas that we even thought were good but will we remember and revisit 2021 dramas lovingly for years to come? I don’t think we will.
But if, for the sake of the activity I had to name one that could and should have a lasting impact (definitely not Squid Game and its Tiger King-ish late stage pandemic success). Well, that drama would be D.P.

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    I agree. It was a stunner. How about Move to Heaven too?

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      I’m watching Move to Heaven now and it’s a nice drama. But my, possibly controversial, opinion is that it isn’t anything more than that.

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        Cannot agree. Not for one minute. See how you go with it. I wrote about it, so if you’re interested I can send a link when you finish. But I’ll be surprised if you don’t change your mind.

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          It’s too heavy handed for me, to the point where parts of it feel manipulative.
          Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. But this is the same reason I usually don’t like hospital dramas. I would love to read what you’ve written about it.

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            I’m not so sure how to capture the link without my other stuff. I’ll put it in the comment below.

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            Move to Heaven is based on a simple premise: when people die, they leave things behind, and those things tell us about them. There is nothing as heart-breaking as seeing the clothes that a loved one has worn hanging in the cupboard, still there, after they have gone forever. It is contrary to everything we know that a shirt can outlive the person who wore it. Like Han Geu-ru, I can bury my nose in the cloth and still smell the person I love. The shirt is still there. The smell lingers. But they are gone and they won’t be coming back. Move to Heaven gets this simple but profound paradox and turns it into a wonderful drama. I’m astonished that a drama based on the deaths of ordinary people and the things they leave behind could be so moving that it made me cry, and yet it was not at all depressing. Facing up to death is a big deal. Our society does everything it can to shield us from the inevitability of our mortality. And yet for entertainment on a daily basis, we can choose to see people being killed in the most gruesome and horrifying ways. Move to Heaven isn’t like that. It shows us ordinary, unglamorous deaths, often undeserved, sometimes abrupt and unexpected, frequently messy and undignified, very often lonely. Then it shows how all those things that so poignantly speak of the person, are left behind. Move to Heaven assembles the detritus of ordinary lives and reverently and respectfully pieces them together into a coherent and often unfinished story, thanks to the brilliance and sensitivity of the trauma cleaners, who take it upon themselves to provide whatever closure they can. It’s so modest and yet so profound. It touches on something that we will all experience.

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            Comment was deleted

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            I already told you. I didn’t like the drama. It’s good, it’s touching, but to me it felt like Michael Landon’s Highway to Heaven.

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            See this THIS (replying to LT’s comment) THIS IS WHY I’ve kept putting it off! Because multiple people say it’s GOOD! But it’s emotionally manipulative– and I just know if that is the case it will annoy the shit out of me!

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    Personally I really liked this year and D.P. was definitely the standout for me. I think Vincenzo was iconic (lighters, corn salad and all) but I did not approve of the extreme violence in the show’s latter episodes.

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    I agree it was not a *great* drama year, and very little was I able to emotionally connect or be moved by… but it is also not a good drama year for me either, as you know … alas.

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#2021RoundUp
Day 4 – That mess you watched and you still wonder why

For the second year in a row the answer to this one is none! And you know, I\’m a healthier and happier person for it. Sure, there are still shows that annoyed me or lost me or that didn\’t end well. But in terms of big, terrible messes like Doom At Your Service or Sisyphus or any of the dozen Makjang messes we got served, I persisted with none and I am better for it.

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    Hear hear!

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    I might get there one day.

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    Same answer here, because this year, I learned to drop the moment I see a mess coming. Now, I just need to learn how to spot more messes – that should lessen my completed list. Now, may day 4 is done, too!.

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    Not even L’s drama?
    I hope one day I’m like you!!

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    Amazing, a drama year with no regrets – at least or having completed. Reminds me of a House episode about living with no regrets.

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Somehow it’s the end of 2021 and I’m not sure how really but that means it’s time to vote in our End of Year Poll! Yes we’re doing it again this year. Any drama that ended in 2021 is in!

2021 in Kdrama: The End of Year Poll

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