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Next on my KDrama Challenge are the Best Romance Dramas I have witnessed in the last 10 years.  This is no easy task given that this is South Korea’s house special.  They may still lack on crime, legal or medical dramas, but they are very creative when it comes to romance dramas.  Just like my first post, I only have 3 requirements.  First, the romantic plot should be something new and refreshing.  Second, it made my heart flutter and squeal like an 18 year old girl or made me cry big time remembering my love failures.  Lastly, it refrained from using kdrama love cliches or if it did at least they tweaked it.

Remembering these dramas brought smile to my face as I recall the beautiful love stories and the memorable characters.

P.S  I didn’t include the following Kdramas on this list as they already belonged to my best kdrama list, but they sure have amazing love plot fused in the story.

City Hall, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Secret Garden, Dong Yi, The Greatest Love, City Hunter, Queen In Hyun’s Man, The Master’s Sun, You From Another Star, King2Hearts, Healer, Reply 1988, Descendants of the Sun

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Goong (2006)

Theme:  Cinderella, School, Palace life

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I still get heart flutters on that scene after Lee Shin’s Thailand escapade with the ex-gf when the princess confronted the ex and she fainted and Lee Shin carried her and nursed her back to life.  And that love admittance back hug scene after the fire conflict, I remembered how I was holding my teddy bear’s hand and swaying it like crazy because I was so elated that at last they finally  realized they love each other for real.  *giggles

This is one of those dramas that I watched a few times in a year for my own traditional purposes and if I’m under major emotional stress, typically another failed relationship or when  my favorite basketball team didn’t get the championship again.

Crown Prince Lee Shin and Crown Princess Chae-gyung’s love story is the typical I-was-not-meaning-to-fall-for-you-but-I-fell-anyway romance.  You will love how the marriage for convenience and ancestor’s promise to marry their future descendants paved the way to one of Korea’s most endeared romantic drama.

What I loved here is I saw how the loved progressed from nothing at all to “I want you to be always beside me” kind of adoration.  They matured as the romance grew, and they grew as the romance matured.  The heart-felt lines were superbly delivered and left me feeling the pain and the bliss at that moment.  There were a few lag time and scenes that were not really necessary and were just there to fill up the minutes, but like a package, it’s so pretty outside, you have to take time to unwrap it and feel happy at what a beautiful gift it was.  It’s the same thing with Goong, it slowly moves but then it will leave you breathless.

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My Girl (2006)

Theme:  Cohabitation Romcom

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Lee Dong Wook is one of my calendar oppas.  My Girl was part of the drama selections that I watched when I had my first heartbreak and it brought me back to living.  *chuckles  My Girl is your prototype Korean rom-com in the sense that it targets the viewers’ emotions through the placement of sweet scenes and heart-wrenching i-have-to-forget-you crying frames.  

Geol Chan, a son from a rich family took in a con-woman  to pretend as his long lost cousin to appease his sick grandfather.  He was prepared to deal with the repercussions of the lie but was caught off guard when he started falling in love with her.  

All throughout the plot, the characters were bubbly and the story was engrossing even when the love conflict was tangled with equally challenging second leads.  My Girl was a very patient drama when it comes to fulfilling the love promise of the story and that’s why it was even more special.

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Which Star are you from? (2006)

Theme:  You and Me against your family

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After the death of his girlfriend, a film director secluded himself only to be reminded of the past he unhinged himself from, by meeting a woman that looked exactly like his dead ex-gf.  It turned out that the woman is indeed his ex-gf’s long lost sister and her family is against her connection to him after blaming him for the death of his past lover.

The premise looked crazy on paper and with Kim Rae Wom and Jung Ryun Won’s chemistry, it was a love feast in my eyes where I wept and laughed and also went problematic on the integral conflict of how they can fulfill their romance.

This is one of those pioneering love dramas where the writer was focused in conceiving a resolution for the conflict by propeling the magical power of love even in fiction writing than throwing unnecessary set backs to hurt the main leads.  It pushed the love couple to tackle their indifferences heads on and relied on how they trust and love each other.

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The First Shop of Coffee Prince (2007)

Theme:  Workplace Romance

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Hail to the grandmother of kdramas with cross-dressing heroines.  This is a follow up hit for Yoon Eun Hye and the drama that made me look at Gong Yoo as an oppa. *wink “Coffee Prince” developed in a feel good manner where the lead man battled out the possibility of his affection to a fellow guy not knowing that the heroine was in disguise.

It was something new when it was aired hence the rave because we saw an unconventional romance between a strong willed heroine who has to pretend she was a man  to secure a job in a coffee shop.  The scenes where Gong Yoo was trying to reconcile his feelings with a guy come what may were hilarious.  It is also one of those dramas where the lead man was presented as someone who wanted to fulfill his woman’s dreams first.

 

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The World that they live in (2008)

Theme:  Workplace Romance, First love

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This is the first drama where I saw characters moving in a very familiar manner with each other.  It was like stepping exactly in a work place where each person was not minding my presence and just doing their jobs accordingly.  This is my most heartfelt and realistic portrayals for both Hyun Bin and Song Hye Gyo.  It felt like they were acting like how they normally are as a person.

I love the romance plot in the story because it’s what a normal love relationship is… messy, uncertain, sweet.  It stepped back to avoid complications but it will eventually realized the mistake of doing so.  

Set in tv drama world, the lead couple were both working as PD’s for a tv station.  It doesn’t have quirky plots infused but it was very appealing to me because I get to see a story without so much embellishments and just plain emotions of the love couple as they rediscover their love for each other over and over again.

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You’re Beautiful (2009)

Theme:    Musical, Cohabitation

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Another cross-dressing heroine drama in our list but this time with a twist. Wanting to be a nun, our lead girl had to pretend as a man to help her twin brother who will be launched as a member of a hot boy band.

Perky and fast-paced storyline, well written script and fresh sweet moments at it’s best.  You have to prepare yourself for a second-lead syndrome, not that Jang Geun Seok was not good but because Jung Yong Hwa was equally sweet.  

Looking back this is still my favorite Park Shin Hye drama because she displayed a memorable heroine that was naive but refreshing and vulnerable but persevering.  With 3 men battling for the lead girl’s attention and parading their skills regardless if it’s awkward or not manner, it was so hilarious watching the heroes bleed love hearts to get noticed.  “You’re Beautiful” is that one drama that would make you realize how beautiful it is to fall in love without any reasons but just pure unadulterated adoration you felt for that someone.

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Boys Before Flowers (2009)

Theme:  School, Rich-boy-poor-girl

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This manga based drama swept my heart when it was adapted by Taiwan TV back when I was in my college days.  It was so popular and introduced me to my first fictional love Dau Ming Si.  To say that I have expectations of it when Korea took it for their own production was an understatement, nevertheless I say they presented it well and good, that I went back to being in my teens, and even watching it in raw videos every week.

What made it different from the rest of the remakes done was it stayed on the original context of young and sweet high school love as opposed to Taiwan’s college setting.  The Japan version I don’t really like that much I only liked the second lead.  On that note, “Boys Over Flowers” presented a strong battle between the main and second lead in claiming the lead girl’s heart.

It may not be perfect because of the moments when the drama has to ride its popularity so additional fragments were added but it was definitely one beautiful romance that will remind us of our first love, school crush and being young and full of dreams.

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Prosecutor Princess (2010)

Theme:  Workplace, Revenge

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Hello Again Ma Hye Ri!  Albeit the conflict centering to the hero’s revenge to his lead girl’s father, this drama has been one of my favorites with how it navigated to bringing in the love couple slowly and then shattering them into pieces after the revelations.

But in the end though, love prevails and while the hero had his own strong convictions with his retaliation, he let himself be swayed and let go of his pain to be with the woman he loves.  The “confrontation-kiss-scene” brought me to the edge of ever after and had me promised myself I will vow to be a single if it’s not Park Shi Hoo that I’m gonna marry with.. *giggles 

Given the heavy conflict, it surprisingly started flashy and breezy where character development for our heroine was a back story.  Give it a visit if you are tired with the romcoms airing these days.  I assure you it will be a nice stay.

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My Gf is a Gumiho (2010)

Theme:  Fantasy, Folklore

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This supernatural spectacle fused with local folklore brought to play a heroine like no other and a lead man who took whatever it takes just to be with the woman he loves.

A rich, lazy college student dreamt of becoming an action star accidentally freed a pretty woman who turns a nine-tailed-fox.  The two work on their dreams of becoming an actor and becoming a human and soon enough fell in love with each other.

The fantasy and reality mixture of the story was what kept it engrossing and Shin Min Ah’s gumiho character perked up the drama all throughout.  You can never go wrong giving a chance to this drama because it will give you varied emotions leaning to the positive side.  The love fulfilment though hindered with the supernatural bead that would sacrifice one or the other from the main love couple gave me a dilemma when it was airing.  

Serve yourself chips and soda on a rainy day and be enthralled at this buoyant and bewitching romance story.

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Personal Preference (2010)

Theme:  Cohabitation

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There were lots of bright tones here which I can say compensated to some dry moments and knots that were loosely conspicuous in a kdrama addict’s eye. The doting scenes melted me and made me craved for more… so scenes that are really unnecessary were left forgotten.  “Personal Taste” is your typical I’m-here-to-protect-you-love-story but with a twist. 

We had a vulnerable lead girl who was betrayed by her bestfriend after seducing her ex-boyfriend and an architect lead man on a mission to redeem his father’s lost glory by analyzing a house designed by a legendary architect who is the lead girl’s father.  Our lead girl mistook her hero as homosexual and let him board in her house but then later on, they both fell in love with each other.

Why it made my list is because even if I refrain from weak heroines, the romance was sweet and fulfilling in the sense that the lead girl redeemed herself through her hero’s encouragement to be a better version of herself while the hero learned to step back and appreciate the people around him instead of keeping all his woes alone.

This is a classic romcom prototype with adorable love couple, easy storyline and a box full of sweetness.

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Myungwol the Spy  (2011)

Theme:  Spy, Enemy turned lovers

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The endearing eye-candy Kang-woo and the equally loveable and charming Myung-wol were the source of a few weeks of bliss and cheerfulness for me when I was watching “Myungwol the Spy”.  

This dandy show was oozing with cute couple bickerings.  The premise of having the heroine protecting the leading man was a relief on the usual vulnerable leading ladies needing a chaebol-in-the-shining-armor to rescue them.

A North Korean spy, Myungwol, infiltrated South Korea in her goal to seduce Hallyu supahstar Kang-Woo.  Her persistence will pay off but her true intention will make or break an impossible love affair.

This is one of the perkiest romcoms you will see given the dynamics of a strong heroine for her character as a spy incognito and the top actor with immense hubris falling in love with his protector.  It will leave you laughing and asking for more.

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The Princess’ Man (2011)

Theme:  Vengeance, Historical

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This Romeo-and-Juliet-like drama sent me to the edge of a cliff and I got affected so much with the struggles and motivations of the main characters.  

The directing and cinematography were captured efficiently projecting a gripping story throughout its conclusion.  How they maneuvered the movements of the conflict without making the protagonists looked so annoyingly pathetic was strategically laid which made me admire the writer of the story. 

The acting was top-notch.  Everyone stepped up and portrayed their characters as they balance their roles to complement and support each other.  I was so moved with how the lead couple struggled to claim the love that is rightfully theirs.  

The Princess’ Man is a drama so complete and will suffice the addiction you will endure as you gape each episode.   It has a conflict that was justified well and was concluded in a realistic manner.  It was agonizing and yet a very loving tale that will remind you of the risks in committing yourself to someone, the bittersweet pain of coming to terms that love has always casualties and the reality that until you learn to forgive, you will not be able to feel in your arms that person who defined you what is love.

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My Princess (2011)

Theme:  Princess Romance

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The modern day princess themed drama did not give me the “my-girl-ish” kind of fondness, but there are really moments that I was able to painfully and delightfully relate to the characters.  

The long lost princess of Korea will embark on re-claiming the honor of her royal family in the modern times, but it will not be easy owing to her need to prove her worth as a princess to her country  and the evident rivals determined to stop the Monarchy’s re-emergence.  She has to rely between the devil and the deep blue sea to fulfill the responsibility laid on her hands.

This drama has been Kim Tae Hee’s way of saying sorry to me after I saw her movie Grand Prix. (Pardon me, I’m having a Princess moment here… *giggles)  Also, this is my favorite Sung Seong Heon oppa’s performance to date.

Sassy couple fights, well rendered sweet hero display, and the mischievous yet vulnerable princess… These are some of the reasons why this love tale was pleasing and captivating.  It managed to give depth to the princess-darkknight love premise without losing the focal character of the story but maintaining the bliss of the romantic element of the narrative.

“My Princess” is that drama you watch with your girlfriends on a pyjama night when you don’t want to talk about work and love problems and just want to rest and feel each other’s presence.  Sweetly made for a woman who loves freely as it can be.

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I Need Romance (2011)

Theme:  Modern romance

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It was like watching my very own love story in the television screen (less the ever-after part)… I cried… I reminisced… I laughed and for a moment, I yearned how it feels to be in a blissful, addictive, sometimes-painful-yet-binding and worth taking a risk kind of romance.  Before the love month wanes, “I Need Romance” filled me up with so much retrospection and argued with my existing love standpoint and rules of dating. 

This love drama was tailored in a sex and the city vibe and narrated the modern love stories of women in their 30’s and how they struggled to keep a romantic relationship and the lack of it. 

The funk and the feistiness of the story and characters, the importance of sex, love and honesty in a relationship along with the sassy girl friendship were enough for me to be drawn and stayed peeking at these lovely women who covered the different faces of a relationship love boat.

I Need Romance was a very fulfilling love drama to watch.  It drew the depth of commitment and the pain it comes when loving so amazingly and truthfully.  It has been bound realistically that the problems and happiness made the story so moving that I was able to relate to it.  When a drama can make me sit to finish it in one sitting, that drama is definitely superb and brimming with exciting-real-world love, Sung-soo and In-young’s adoration did it to me.  I strongly vouched for this romantic series, women should watch it, and men should learn a lot from it.

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Flower boy ramyun shop (2011)

Theme:  Cohabitation, rich-boy-poor-girl

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It is a definite rom-com drama at its best, full of sweetness, charm and endearing characters that you will surely adore.  It was one of the quirkiest-so-pleasing-to-watch-cast-ensembles.   You will keep in your heart the love story, the characters in lead and supporting roles, the humor, the wit, the love triangle sometimes love polygon, and the drama moments.

What I loved in this drama was when Chi-soo and Kang-hyuk set to claim the cup on Eun-bi’s heart.  It felt like Legolas and Gimli boasting at their orc killing showdown.  The kiss scene after Chi-soo snatched Eun-bi while she was on a date with Pillar, was the defining kdrama kiss for me so far.  It was like “you are mine” kiss nailed and defined.

I was so puppy faced all throughout my stay at Flowerboy Ramyun Shop.  I craved for more and they sufficed me beyond what I expected.  I got the closure I hoped for and this will be included in my yearly series to watch tradition.

 

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The Moon that Embraces the Sun 2012

Theme:  Historical, First love

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This drama opened the year with a grand fireworks display.  The ratings stayed up even if there were times that I was wishing for it to speed up.  But the production team sure know when they should wake you up when you were about to doze off so I remain positively raving.

The young love which bloomed and defied time, reasons, and political issues were the reasons why the production was applauded immensely, I think.  The strong and consistent character portrayals, supernatural seasonings, family issues and brotherly love cemented the viewers’ loyalty, I say.

The series as a whole was creatively conceived, but I won’t say I’m all praises to it compared to what I felt with the recent sageuks I saw (Tree with Deep Roots and The Princess Man).  It was euphoric on its strong notes and contemplating on its sad tones.

My verdict?  This is a drama full of love and anguish, but you will eventually CHERISH it.

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Faith (2012)

Theme:  Fantasy, Historical, Medical

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It was not as polished and calculated as City Hunter or Ghost, in fact it was sort of slow moving but it was moving to a direction where it was making the viewers joined the drama production… cheering for them, feeling each of the character’s pain, engrossed with the happy moments and frustrated with the inability to end the villains vile ways.  To make it simple, Faith was successful in establishing a connection that will not make it forgettable.

The major conflicts were mainly divided to the political assertions and the save-the-doctor-struggle in the winding part of the drama.  The main character Choi Young, weary but bound to his responsibility to the king was always resolved in prioritizing him, and it has pained him that he cannot protect the love of his life.  When his inability to wield his sword struck in the home stretch I was so worried that they may not get an ever-after, so when he went back to his nothing-fazes-me attitude and went Kenshin Himura to all the people who has been blocking the road to happiness with his woman, I just told myself that it’s really not a bad idea to be single as long Lee Min Ho will always be there on the TV screen.

Assimilating the action plot with the supernatural spices and decorating it with folklore, having a band of villains equipped with mojos and x-men powers, a sassy and bubbly modern day doctor that was lost cutely to a new kind of thriving she was forced to live and of course the Thor-ish General who made my Kenshin Himura looked so inferior… were the essentials that made this drama such an enthralling TV experience.  The provocative plot matches the annoying villain assaults and the firm, arresting retaliation of the underdogs.  I know that goodness will prevail in the end, and it was amazing how the protagonists took their final stand considering how smooth the pounces were of the bad guys.  A drama moving through governance contention and draped by the traditional settings normally sets a serious tone, but how the heroes and the villains pulled the tricks on their sleeves eased out the ambiance to set an immersing watch.

“Faith” is a remarkably premeditated tale where notwithstanding the consistent dawdling and sageuk clichés it successfully notched the path where it was directing the audience – hope, holding on faith and happiness.  Faith’s ability to balance the transcendent elemental nonsense was plausible and cohering to how it mounted to the story’s peak.  The back to the future arc linked the primary message and the title of the drama – FAITH.  Every essence of it and how a person should have faith to claim the love he deserves.  “Was I lacking of my yearning to see him or was I lacking faith?”  This was a very strong line I remembered and has pierced directly to my romantic veins. 

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Cheongdamdong Alice (2012-2013)

Theme:  Black Knight Romance

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What would you do if you truly love the person but you started not with the right intention?
This Cinderella-like tale brimmed with interesting characters and have splashes of mirth, reality slaps, gold-digging lessons, PTSD nonsense and thought-provoking love arguments.  With a rich-girl-poor-guy love affair premise, this was not a case of true love, but a love that was proven to be true.

I had hair-tugging moments when Se-kyung was confused with the lie she started but she convinced me with her tenacity and justifying that even if her love was ugly, it was still love.  I love that line she mentioned about how poor girls were looked down because they married a rich man when rich girls who arranged marriages also marry for money.  There are a lot of reality check scenes in the drama inferring love disparities and that has made the texture of the story different from your typical you-and-me-against-my-rich-family premise.  Se-kyung was blatant with her intentions even if she knew that it will destroy her.  She was not your typical “I don’t care if you’re rich I just love you” girl because she’s been through a relationship saddled with financial constraint, and in the real world when you build a future with someone, love will be a foundation but money will sustain it.

Seung-jo passed through 5 stages of grief in overcoming and renewing the love he had and he raised the most important message of the story.  There are always reasons why you love someone and you can never ask for a proof of it.  When love fails, you can never go back but you can always start again.  Alice in Cheongdamdong depicted a typical love story but twisting not just the conflicts and the characters, and in doing so it raised an imbalance that has made the story true.  Women dig any Cinderella-story because they wanted the feeling of being rescued.  In this love tale, the girl started the conflict, she made the the person who will rescue him part of the conflict, but she found the way to overcome it.  Way to go girl! 

The daddy-and-first-love-issues, the brave but twisted love of the heroine, the circumstances of why the main love was in a tug-of-war setting, the opposing beliefs in romance were detrimental factors in imaginary and real-life ever-after.  Cheongdamdong Alice was able to hit all those considerations of people who are looking for the kind of love they deserve.  Sometimes love started because it was meant to be but it has to end because we have to get the love we deserve.  If you are looking for a romance, this drama will show you the love at its purest, vilest and fulfilling appearance.
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Rooftop Prince (2012)

Theme:  Time Traveling, fusion sageuk

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Joseon Era –  All was doing well with Prince Yi-gak.   The empire is smooth sailing and he enjoys afternoon walks with his princess and riddle games with his sister-in-law.  Until a morning of surprise when the Crown Princess was found dead floating on the lake.  Determined to catch the culprit on the Princess’ death, he gathered 3 of the most useful Joseon men he could find and off they go to uncover the mystery. 
In their pursuit to unveil the cause of the Princess’ death, they were transported 300 years after to modern Korea and landed to Park Ha’s rooftop house.  From there the real adventure began.  They have to face the difference brought about by the time and villains with equally pathetic motivations who failed miserably to their evilness act. 
This was the first drama I saw with reincarnation plot in full swing (memory searching… really no other drama with reincarnation plot yet).  The adorable 3 Musketeers were a bundle of bliss, a sight to behold, a manna from Heaven.  The laughter I got from their modern living transformation supplied enough happiness pills to cover the recent job nausea I’m getting at work. 

The cute lead couple exhibited on screen chemistry.  Lead couple for rom-coms has a tendency to be so tiring to watch if they get either super-insensitivity attack or overly-loving complex.  Yi Gak and Park Ha were smooth as a couple.  The romance was not rushed, and with that love-transcending-time premise, excuse me Romeo and Juliet here’s the couple to beat.

It was not your perfect drama technical and script wise… in fact there were a few labyrinth-bound story plots and out of place conflicts, but then again the sweet moments and the laughter were all so worth it, so you would hardly notice the lapses…  It’s that love tale that I don’t want to end and I can’t get enough of, and the reincarnation storyline somewhat helped me to move on.  I begged that the drama will not end.  Honestly, I felt that they could still have made it longer.  It made me feel so insatiable watching it.  

 

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A  Gentleman’s Dignity (2012)

Theme:  Bromance, Testing Waters

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“A Gentleman’s Dignity” tells the story of quadruplet 40+ men who grew up as friends since Highschool and nurtured their friendship since then.  The morning breakfast forums, the constant cover ups to survive the feisty wife, the one-sided love, the mischievous-kiss-may-december-love-affair, the now-we-break-up-tomorrow-we’ll-get-back relationship, the opening hilarious anecdotes, the sweetest, heart-wrenching love declarations and love-believe-me’s, and the bromance were some of the reasons why I highly recommend this romcom drama.

For a woman’s perspective, I never thought I would enjoy this so much and I felt that even if Jang Dong Gun was the main attraction among the boys, having them all together were the strongest points of the drama.  All four of them were a big pile of mirth and love. 

They say life begins at 40, and these men who were friends since Highschool rocked it.  Having their own stable life, they have to balance personal, family and relationship issues while maintaining the best bromance I’ve seen so far.

The conflicts mainly focused on their finding and keeping love.  Do jin and Yi Soo depicted how sweet a one-sided love can be when it became two-sided.  Yoon and Me Ah Ri defied friendship and age to hold on to each other.  Tae San and Se Ra had a rough ride before they finally realized they belong to each other.  Jung Rok and Min Sook defeated jealousies and discovered that you sometimes have to lose love so that you can find it again. 

I have very positive feelings towards this drama.  All those minor so-what-situational-supporting-conflict I just disregarded because the story and the characters have such reverberating resonance that has made me reflect on how I’ve been dealing with my own relationship and commitment issues.  Come to think of it, they made this to make you remember how vulnerable and how defiant you can come after because of love.
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Reply 1997 (2012)

Theme:  Young love, First love

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Answer Me 1997 sprinted all the way to my heart with its vibrant characters, nostalgic premise, fan girl foolish escapades, friendship we all have at some point and we still have at the moment and of course the crazy first love.  

Kdramaland was all out and has maximized the use of time element in the dramas for 2012, and for Reply 1997, they went to nostalgia… I sighed, cried and laughed out loud as I joined the characters in their younger years memory delving.  Nothing magical, mythical and supernatural, just a pure trip down to the moments everyone watching can totally relate.  Spicing the flashback element, the drama will be switching from present to the later part of the ‘90’s showcasing the trademark of that generation where tamagotchi, flip top phones and the rest of the ancestors of the modern technology in their conceiving stage.
The familiar feeling of first love if given another chance could become a “fated love”.  I finished the drama in one sitting, that’s how engrossing and fetching the story was.  It was just there sharing a wonderful friendship and love story without hassles and annoying conflicts but the emotions were resonating and striking at the memory veins that it will make you recollect the good old times when you first passionately and recklessly fell in love.

The charming screenplay and story have brought out the best of the newbie artists.  The novelty and evasion from the drama rom-com clichés has made the plot a winner.  It was like reading a predictable book… you know what’s going to happen but how they made it happen was sweet, comic, beautiful and realistic so you stayed fondly watching them.  The story will grow on you without you realizing it.

This is a wistful memoir of that point in time that we first fell in love… and when you finish the story, you might wonder what if you tried to go back.
“The reason why first love is always special is because you kept the memories… since you can never go back”.  Answer Me 1997 will prove this quote otherwise. 

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Operation  Proposal (2012)

Theme:  Fantasy, Time travel

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Once upon a time there was a man who lacked confidence in declaring his love to the woman he adored since they were young so the girl was left no choice but to accept another man’s marriage offer.  Realizing too late that he let go of his one great love, the man cried and a bored time conductor was moved by his lamentation over losing the woman she cherished most.  So he was given a magical potion to drink and a weird renovation incantation to say for him to go back to the past to correct the wrong choices he made in his life and make room for the love he thought was meant for him and his girl.

Operation Proposal was sweetly and richly narrated that even if I went to a lot of time travelling for 2012, I enjoyed it so much.  I love how they moved the romance from young childish love to a taking time to realize kind of love to a love that didn’t understand reasons but felt what’s important and to a love that was meant to have and to give.
I lost count of how many times he went back and forth to correct something in the past to avoid the eventual wedding of the woman he loved, but I was so fond of Kang Baek Ho that even when I was tugging my hair because he can’t do it right when it came to expressing how he felt… I still gave him a chance… actually he’s the only person I’ve given myriad of chances to prove his love, and it paid off…  it was such a fetching feeling to be with him in his rollercoaster ride to be with someone who has been with him all his life… to finally own what other people may say to be love written on the stars. 

The fantasy element fusing to the reality was layered in such a way that you don’t question the magic pull they put in the drama.  In the latter episodes I was also begging for more chances of going back to the past because like most of the people around him Kang Baek Ho grew fond in my heart. All throughout I was feeling what the lead girl was — “there’s this man I’ve loved all my life, I’ve sent signals for him to realize that I like him, but he’s so clueless about it.”  Being a lady-in-waiting, I was able to relate to what she was feeling… it’s hard to be in a situation when you love someone all your life, and in that long span both of you are groping if there will be a romantic future that you can both share. 

There were a lot of love situations tackled in this drama but it all goes down to two main points:  How far you are going to wait for someone for them to realized your worth and that you are waiting?  And being brave to fall in love and discarding the what-if’s and saying it at the very moment you are feeling it.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful love stories this year but Operation proposal took me from blushing to crying to understanding that in love someone can run to you that’s why he might have let you wait.

The time-space continuum voyages of Baek Ho was an endearing journey full of twist, oh no’s and romance.  It was a refreshing feel to have a conflict that was not evil motivated that’s why I loved the supernatural spike in this drama.  The lead character was competing with himself – with his past self for that matter and his forebearance endured his painstaking drive to be with the girl he loved.

The pacing and the timing were injected smoothly in the movement of the time wrinkling happening in the drama.  It was neatly done that I didn’t lose interest in it.  If you are looking for a complete romance drama with a magical side dish – Operation Proposal would serve the purpose.
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That Winter the Wind Blows (2013)

Theme:  Fake siblings turned lovers

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I pretended to be a long lost brother to a blind heiress because I needed money to continue to live only to find myself waking up wanting to protect my fake little sister every single day” in between anti-histamine and sleeping.  Given the drama bucket I’ve piled in the past few years, making me stay sitting on a drama was a feat hard to achieve, and this year, “That Winter, The Wind Blows” was the first one to notch it, and no candy crush nor any other distraction can compete with Jo In Sung oppa for my attention.  *wink

This is how a melodrama should be done, enough emotional scenes to stimulate the heart and tear ducts, but not bordering to weep fest.  This spectacle was like Innocent Man, but what was half-achieved by the former, was strongly fulfilled by this winter romance show.  Loving someone when you are literally blind takes faith beyond reasons, and finding a reason to live because you love someone takes bravery beyond faith. 

A tale of not really brothers and sisters who were entangled by fate, unexpected fondness, blind trust, and true love, this drama blew me away on the early episodes and the intense scenes when the revelations were surging up.  It took me a while to be convinced on how the lead girl’s firm grasp of things disregarded how her hero abnegated his own happiness because he got infected with the love he was feeling for her, but as I realized, I without disability have insecurities and would really feel awful if I will be betrayed, how much more for a blind girl like her.  It always help to step on the character’s shoes to see through their perspective.

It was not a happy-yey!-ever-after closure, but at least they were together.  And I’m happy about it. I really loved this drama because it didn’t give me the satisfaction of getting a fairy-tale ending.  And because at those scenes that really mattered I was able to feel for the characters and the struggle they were hurdling.  It drove to the path of how Oh-soo and Oh-young’s self-contemplation on what they have to offer with each other to be worthy of each other’s love.  Oh-soo who has never saw meaning to his life has found it when he met a woman who was also sharing the same sentiment as his.  Sometimes it’s really the pain that makes the love so worth it, because without it you can never differentiate if you are willing to let go or to love the person.

“That Winter, The Wind Blows” was a poignant love drama that will make you remember how you were scared to start a love you were unsure of, and how you took the odds to claim it.  This was a cure for people with “trust issues” and its delightful and piercing romance take will definitely appeal to people wanting to love… wanting to be in love and wanting to be loved back.  It was a splendid romantic drama ride for me.  It was not perfect but it was emotionally astonishing.

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Fated To Love You (2014)

Theme:  Strangers turned Lovers

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Rom-coms are as always the main drawers of Hallyu wave followers through the years therefore competition to present a romcom that will stick and hook the audience has always been a tough case… Some may start strong and then dwindle in the end and some may start slow but go frenzily good towards it closure. “Fated to love you” has hit all the bullet points of a typical rom-com, even the cliches and the character prototypes but its endearing lead couple won my heart over even if there were dragging moments in the story.

I think being able to put up strong romance filled scenes as well as the chemistry between the eccentric, suave and winner of the best male laugh ever in the kdramaland and the meek and good-hearted heroine created a venue where audience are reminded that they too once dreamt of a Cinderella-ish romance.

Being able to focus on Lee Gun and Kim Mi Young’s relationship as it build up from perfect strangers to true love drew a connection that all viewers can relate to. It was able to examine how much a person is willing to give because of love.

Fated To Love You invested on the bread and butter of Rom-Com dramas and luck was on their side because they have such endearing couples that made the easily foreseen scenarios still appealing to watch. They worked on the essence of “timing” in romance and remained steadfast with their theme until the conclusion and resolution of the love story.

It’s a comfort drama pill best watch in the rainy days… its romantic magic will soothe your love veins.
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Discovery of Romance (2014)

Theme:  Second Chance on Love

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One of the reasons why I like this drama so much is because it went to the unconventional path of presenting the love story between estranged couple and how they were able to realize that their love was true even then, and even years after.

I wept over the heart breaking dialogues during those “if you only did that” scenes and it honestly ripped me apart because of how truthful those lines are, and because given the situations and dilemmas raised in the storyline, it was really how a normal person would have thrown words at his lost love who presented himself to you again, and just when you thought that you are done and over him, you will realize that he has never left in the first place.  It gave us that painful reminiscing of how after losing a love we greatly cherished, it would make us discern on how someone will always remind us that beautiful things change painfully in a moment, and there would be no way for you to prepare.

Han Yo-Reum has a happy life and stable doctor-boyfriend Nam Ha-Jin. Her story looks perfect as she lives quirkily with her two best friends while enjoying woodwork as her career. In her attempt to catch her faithful boyfriend who was forced by his adopted mother to go on blind dates, she chanced upon her ex-boyfriend from 5 years ago, Kang Tae-Ha. Having inherited his family’s interior design company, he commissioned Yo-reum to collaborate in their projects while brewing his intentions in trying to win her back again. And as they meet up in doing the projects, glimpses from their past were narrated in flashbacks while they try to assess why fate led them to another chance in their future.

I barely suffered from a second-lead syndrome because I’m not really a fan of comfortable relationship. Well in this aspect I know that people have different perspectives, but I want a love that will bring me the extremes of pain and bliss. I remembered Yo-reum’s best friend saying how love should be a mixture of emotions, how you fight and make up for the indifferences and understand that it should always lead to a compromise.  Moving in a slow but sure path the first half of the love memoir spectacle featured the background story that have made the viewers joined the heroine when she was finally overwhelmed in trying to justify that her stable relationship is what she needed in her life, and not the old flame that kept throwing her to myriad of emotions she can’t process.

Hitting all the realistic elements of what it really takes to be in a relationship was the best part of the love triangle in this roller coaster romantic ride. Diverting to the usual cushioned approach or drama-infused conflicts they usually put on their storyline, they dug to the root of love problems in a coherent world – the strength to let go of a half-baked love and the choice to be in a not so perfect but true love.

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It’s okay that’s love (2014)

Theme:  psychology explained kind of love

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It might be the most unconventional modern romance drama I have ever seen but it has such a very affecting and unique story given that sickness in k-dramaland usually involves amnesia or anything fatal. Perhaps it comes with me being at my 30’s too that I don’t like being given tailored romantic dramas with the usual illness premise that is sometimes really tiring to watch. 

The dots connecting the characters in small groups are as functional as when you view the cast as a whole. The friendship circle of the psychiatrists presenting a utopian human interaction that doesn’t follow bias and excess baggages was a delightful package that has driven the deft writing of the storyline. Jae-yeol’s emotionally wounded family was a picture of how even the most dysfunctional family need one another to heal each other’s wound while Hae-soo’s misplaced hatred with her mother’s infidelity that helped sent her to medical school has created a scar inside her which her professional self can’t even cure

“It’s okay that’s love” is just how relationship realities are translated in a cherished, ardent, unadulterated, lingering, failing, and blissful TV drama scenes. The last 4 episodes has had me at my knees clutching my pillow, trying to subdue the emotional outburst from a beautiful and heartfelt thread of painful and fervid love moments that cut deep in my heart and my very own memories of how it felt to love someone deeply without holding back.

Seamless and unfeigned, it progressed from warm to romantic to sacrificial to against-all-odds and eventually to you-were-meant-for-me love timeline. I saw all the faces of love tackled bravely and painfully in this love story.

Without annoying third parties and excessive misunderstanding scenes, I grew fond of all the characters while enjoying a love narrative which took a different approach to defy rom-com rules by presenting the genuine feel of being with someone… the scare, the heart flutters, the denials and the bliss.

The fate of a successful romance lies not on how much effort each other has to put on to keep the love going because love is always never enough… it is always the choice to love someone that keeps a relationship endure.

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Kill Me, Heal Me (2015)

Theme:  Multiple Me Love

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The complexity of the multiple personality disorder fused with the fated but hindered romance of the main couple has made me ruminative deducting the precepts of the story premise of this smartly and playfully written korean drama.  I knew it was all about trauma and I was happy that there was no extreme sacrificial bordering to stupidity acts done by the main leads in avoiding their destined love.

Overall I like the ambitious writing of this drama.  It was meticulous in inserting the conflict of the story, although it came to a point when it became too detailed dragging the denouement which they could have used in a few romantic notes in the penultimate episodes of the story.  The sending off of Do Hyun’s characters warmed my heart especially that of Perry Park and Se Gi scenes.  I don’t know the extent of this psychiatric condition, but I liked that it was explained well how each characters emerged.  It was like Voldemort’s horcruxes in a positive way.  *chuckles

Typically kdramas with chaebol power struggle plot involved unreasonable conspiracies and surprises so I think since the multiple personality is the carrying story conflict, it was good that it didn’t dwell on the money-filled but problematic chaebol world.  With multiple characters bursting in and out, the humor was ever present but not slapstick. 

I actually feared that the characters might act stupid once the revelation of their connected past and linked present will be uncovered.  Thankfully they sailed all throughout with their rational minds.
Beautiful in its strongest points and faint weaknesses, this is a perfect drama that will leave you happy and intrigued.
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Beloved Eun Dong (2015)

Theme:  Unrequited Love

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If there’s a first love drama that warmed my heart recently, it would be a man’s unrequited romance to a woman who was kept being separated to him by fate.  Beloved Eun Dong narrated a love story so blissful and agonizing like it came straight from a classic love novel.

The love couple met when they were young and became each other’s puppy love, they met again in college where they formally entered a relationship, but the girl, Eun Dong who dreamt of being an actress met an accident and left the lead man’s life.  He soon became a top actor and in his quest to find his true love commisioned a ghost writer to bring to life his love story.  Eun Dong who suffered from amnesia took the job and while writing the book, her memory came back and realized the lies her current disabled husband and adopted father did to her.

The conflict having been Eun Dong already married while the lead man fervently waited for her was mind agonizing.  It was a test of justifying what you’ve been through to lose your greatest love and will you be happy if you reclaim your love that is legally not yours anymore.  The love triangle were all in a helpless state trying to break out from that suffocating bind.

“Beloved Eun Dong” has a very strong narrative which will put the audience on a trance in finding a solution for everyone to be happy.  It taught a lesson that love involves two people loving each other the best way they can and not how the people around them understands it.  

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Oh My Ghost (2015)

Theme:  Haunted Love

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Bright, Cheerful and Feel Good have always been the after effect of an episode dose of Oh My Ghostess for me.  Supernatural plot is a make or break deal in kdramas.  It needs to be flaunting when the plot needs it, and it needs to see reasons when you over expose it.

I like the richness of the father-daughter filial love in the story as it literally transcended the after life.  I like how cheeky and sweet Sun Woo was at the same time, his reactions were adorable.  I like how Park Bo Young was able to differentiate Na Bong Sun and Shin Soon Ae’s characters to fit in with the way the actual Soon Ae was playing in the story.  I like how the romcom elements fused well with the metaphysical plot of the story by  making the love leads face their issues straight on and seeing the reasons right away.

Every main character in this drama has his own story that the love line was not the main thing that got me hooked with it.  It was how each character’s story along with the conflicts that entwined them brought the love story closer and concluded the conflicts neatly.

It was the most consistent romantic-comedy for me for 2015, yes even with the slight tragic plot.  The chemistry of the love couple was impeccable that all the followers of this drama would agree how Bong Sun and  Sun Woo made our heart fluttered with their bipolar-disorder-misguided-romance.  It’s hard not to drum your feet on your bed and grin when Sun Woo went to his usual i’m-the-man antics and Bong Sun’s pesky man cravings guided by Soon Ae.

If you are needing a love elixir to boost your already blooming relationship of if you just want a perfect romcom drama getaway.. This one is for you.
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Another Oh Hae Young (2016)

Theme:  Rebound Romance

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Dear Another Oh Hae Young,

For the spot on bliss and tears you gave me as a woman and not as a kdrama critic this time, I forgave the extension to benefit some more money for the high ratings.  *chuckles  For me your story reached its most beautiful place when the heroine, after all the betrayals and half-hearted i-love-you replies and confusions, still chose to be with the man she loves.  She might appear weak for letting her love for him consume all the reasons why she should let him go.  She might look desperate for throwing away the fears she felt, the days she half-lived and the moments she almost gave up.  But at the end of it all, she just wanted to love and be loved back.   She just wanted a love that beats in her heart. 

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We typically get utopian love stories, but that was not the case for “Another Oh Hae Young”, they shared the pain and the bliss in its barest and heart piercing manner.  What drew the viewers is how the angst and confusion of qualifying love was stripped to its messiest and yet sweetest state just how someone would remember how he fought for his one great passionate love.

I think anyone who has loved someone to the point of being drained and crazy will have a weep fest watching the drama.  I can only imagine the heartbreak the writer of this drama had experienced in his life to capture the real emotion someone has to go through when he is bargaining with love and when he is angry and missing the person at the same time.  If there’s one lesson Oh Hae Young and Park Do Kyung’s romance would leave their viewers is that how you don’t overthink when you intend to love someone all the way… how you say I love you because that’s what you felt at that moment… and how you embrace the love feeling because you believe it to be true.  

Another Oh Hae Young is not just your typical rom-com drama.  It takes pride on its keen perception of the difference between how a man and a woman take on distinct approaches on loving someone while weighing on their pre- conceived inhibitions that the relationship might not work.  It tackled playfully and seriously the kind of love someone can give after learning lessons from a heartbreak.

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