Just how do I choose which dramas to watch when a new set of drama premiere in hallyuland? I actually rely on the production team more than the actors. There are a few exceptions like So Ji Sub, Jo In Sung, Cha Tae Hyun, Yoo Ah In, Lee Min Ho and Jun Ji Hyun dramas, but I mostly put my faith on the works headlined by the conceivers of the story. Deciding on which dramas to keep, park and drop is a skill you should work on in order for you to still get a life and plenty of sleep while nurturing your kdrama-addiction. *chuckles Trust me, you will eventually hit that stage when you have seen a lot so you want to see something new for a change.
I have learned to trust the previous works of these writers and directors. Those who hit one or two dramas in me, I still have reservations. So if the first eight episodes of their new work seems not going anywhere, I will skip it and move on to another story.
I still do trust new writers and directors. It is important that we do because the more narratives and worlds these growing production teams want to explore, the more happy we will be as viewers.
This list will help you whom to trust in case you have specific genres you prefer to binge watch.
The Seasoned Writer
Choi Wan Kyu’s works span 23 years of classic favorites and modern surprises. If you want to have a grasp of Korean history, he is great in exploring period narratives and is also strong in character-driven stories. He is superb in handling big cast productions and long-running storylines.
NOTABLE WORKS: General Hospital 1 & 2, All In, Jumong, Lovestory in Harvard, Gourmet, Swallow the Sun, Iris, Midas, Lights and Shadows, Triangle and Flower in Prison
The Sentimental Writer
I loved how almost all her love stories led me to warranted self-introspection because of her ability to sketch poignant stories and lingering characters. Noh Hee Kyung can switch from refreshing comedies to tear-jerkers inside her love stories. She also dares to traverse variety of love setting that surprisingly endeared the viewers.
NOTABLE WORKS: More Beautiful than a flower, Goodbye Solo, The world that they live in, Padam padam, That Winter the Wind Blows, It’s Okay, that’s Love, Dear My Friends
The Star Writer
Her ability to tap to what the general audience like has been an amazing talent. I once thought she is overrated, but I got to give it to her because her recent works in the past eight years were all striking. Kim Eun Sook works wonder mostly on romantic-comedies. She has forged indelible love couples and bromance through the years.
NOTABLE WORKS: Lovers in Paris, City Hall, Secret Garden, A Gentleman’s Dignity, The Heirs, Descendants of the Sun, The Lonely, Shining Goblin
The Nimble Director
I had a lot of fun in Myungwol the Spy and Sungkyunkwan Scandal while I had some retrospection in Goodbye Solo. Director Hwang In Hyuk is stunning in designing polished dramas and injecting clever humor all throughout the story.
NOTABLE WORKS: Goodbye Solo, Empress Chunchu, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Myungwol the Spy, Assembly, Laurel Tree Tailors
The Flexible Director
Deft on bringing life to ardent melodramas, Boo Sung Chul PD can throw charming humor when required by the plot. I just found out that I like him while doing my research, so I made sure he is marked well for his future projects.
NOTABLE WORKS: Lobbyist, Star’s Lover, You’re Beautiful, My GF is a Gumiho, Jang Ok Jung, Living in Love, The Heirs, Mask, Our Gab Soon
The Trendy Director
One look at his works and you will know that he is the god of trendy, youthful rom-coms. He has a knack of keeping up well on heart-fluttering scenarios even as the time evolves. I look forward to him proving this claim on his future projects.
The Master of Thriller Writing
His pace will surely leave you at the edge of your seat, but he sure knows how to weave a story by making the characters and the plot as one. I fell in love with him at “Punch” but the rest of his works are equally amazing.
NOTABLE WORKS: Punch, Empire of God, The Chaser
The Mushy Screenwriter
Yang Hee Sung writer’s character sketches are vibrant and energetic. His recent works made me feel warm and he can sure blend romance and comedy right on point.
NOTABLE WORKS: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, Oh My Ghost, Highschooler King of Life, Soonpoong Clinic
The Sassy Screenwriter
Before her big hit in You Who Came from Another Star, she already showed that addictive cheery vibe in her earlier dramas. The situations she has written in her stories have brought out the best of the comic timings in the actors starring in her dramas, and I thank her for that.
NOTABLE WORKS: Legend of the Blue Sea, Producers, You Who Came from the Stars, You Who Rolled in Unexpectedly, Queen of Reversals
The Affectionate Director
Baek Sang Hoon can transition from young love themed dramas to real romance stories by stirring the plot well and hooking the viewers with the actors’ portrayal.
NOTABLE WORKS: Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds, Descendants of the Sun, Who Are You School 2015, Secret Love
The Chameleon Director
This director’s portfolio boasts with great actors in various genres. Analyzing his works made me realize how he is quick to uptake in building the synergy of the love couple without forcing it, but by perfecting scenes that captured the characters well in their moments of falling in love.
NOTABLE WORKS: Goblin, Descendants of the Sun, Secret Love, Discovery of Love, School 2013, Dream High
The Exciting Director
As reflected on his noteworthy creations, Yoon Sung Shik can go on serious storytelling to perky narratives. His strength is he knows well when to place the hook on his stories and he makes the cast as a whole shine together.
NOTABLE WORKS: Hwarang, The King’s Face, Bridal Mask, Lee Soon Shin is the Best
The Storytelling Guru
Expert in long-running stories, Lee Sung Joon PD has made memorable dramas mostly on period drama setting. He can do standard narration, but he is also stunning when he tweaks it to a fusion sageuk.
NOTABLE WORKS: The Scholar Who Walks at Night, Empress Ki, The Moon that Embraces the Sun, May Queen, Gyebaek, The Duo, Creating Destiny
The Romance Sensitive Director
The string of dramas on his file screamed a lot about painful and patient love. He can be charming with the light scenes, but he will throw you at a weep fest on the emotionally stirring scenes.
NOTABLE WORKS: Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds, Discovery of Love, Who Are You School 2015, Dream High
The Mischievous Romantic Screenwriter
Jung Hyun Jung writer is my long lost friend from parallel universe who might have peeked on my very own lovestories, thereby translating it in the TV screen. *chuckles What I like about him is how she creates those love frames that anyone can relate to. From the blooming romance, to sad goodbyes, and to love second chances. She is also great on lively ambiance and his screenplay is top knotch.
NOTABLE WORKS: Five Children, Because it’s the first time, Discovery of Love, I Need Romance 1, 2 and 3
The Ardent Director
Known for emotionally draining melodramas, Kim Kyu Tae induced witty humor in his directing, but never lost his focus in displaying the tearjerking scenes. He is excellent in capturing the love progression of the main couple.
NOTABLE WORKS: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, It’s Okay, that’s love, Padam padam, That winter the wind blows, Iris, A Love to Kill
The Snappy Director
I love how Jang Tae Yoo PD is flexible on historical dramas and modern dramas. Just ruminating on what he did in Tree With Deep Roots and You From Another Star was fascinating. He deftly navigates the story without losing its footing and neatly wrapped everything to a plausible closure.
NOTABLE WORKS: You from Another Star, Tree with Deep Roots, The Painter of the Wind, Money’s Warfare
The Cheerful Writer
The love lines he created are lingering and engaging. The love couples he introduced to us have lived well in the setting he created so naturally that we were able to relate to them easily.
NOTABLE WORKS: Full House, You’ve fallen for me, Producers, The World that they live in, Which star did you come from?
The Innovative Writer
Song Jae Jung writer is unfazed in establishing realms where he can bring the viewers in awe and wonder. His impeccable skills to draw chimeric worlds swept me off my feet. He is a master of push and pull when it comes to inducing excitement.
NOTABLE WORKS: W: Two Worlds, The Three Musketeers, Nine: Nine Times Travel, Queen In Hyun’s Man, Highkick through the Roof
The Nostalgic Writer/PD Tandem
Giving us the elaborated “Reply Series” required thorough research and attention to details. A trip down to the memory lanes of our high school and college life as well as our growing up years in the local neighborhood was achieved to perfection by these wonderful duo. The Reply Series are kept dear in my heart and belong to the drama pills that aid me during rainy days.
NOTABLE WORKS: Reply 1997, Reply 1994, Reply 1988
The Period Drama Experts
These masters of acclaimed period dramas intricately wove the stories to present an elaborated picture of character driven stories based on historical setting. Through their dramas I was forced to hit Korean history books as well leading me to a forced history lessons as well.
NOTABLE WORKS: Dae Jang Geum, Yi San, Flower in Prison, Dong Yi, Horse Doctor, Six Flying Dragons, Tree With Deep Roots, Queen Seon Deok, Hwajung
The Resonating Screenwriter
There’s something about the vibrancy of the cast portrayal in his stories that left a lingering effect in me. While he sprinkled comedic notes, he discussed the characters in detail so well that you can’t help but cheer on them. Kim Won Suk lead me at cheerful bliss in Sungkyunkwan Scandal and made me want to leave my regular job at Misaeng. *chuckles He is one complicated writer that you would surely love.
NOTABLE WORKS: Signal, Misaeng, Monstar, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Partners
The Smart Screenwriter
I first noticed her at “Ghost” and since then, I’ve become her fan. For a girl, I like that she is valiant and polished in working mostly on thrillers with crime genre as premise. You have to sit on her dramas to understand what I am saying, but she is sure one intelligent writer worthy to stalk on.
NOTABLE WORKS: Signal, Three Days, Ghost, Sign
The Reliable Veteran Writer
Song Ji Na’s career spanned two decades of writing and she amazingly adapted to the changing times and was able to bring stories you won’t expect she could pull. Such was the case for Healer and Faith, which I thought was made by a young writer only to find out that it was conceived by a veteran writer. If you want a taste of reality and fantasy, then Song Ji Na’s dramas will be a perfect fit for you.
NOTABLE WORKS: Healer, Faith, The Legend, A Man’s Story, Kaist, The Sandglass, Eye of Dawn
The Perky Sisters-Writer Tandem
Now I am starting to miss these two. Most of their dramas are quirky and lovable. Although my most hated drama came from them, most of my favorites were also written by them. Such is the irony in kdramaland. *lol They are a resident rom-com writer favorites and has created memorable love couples through the years.
NOTABLE WORKS: The Master’s Sun, The Greatest Love, You’re Beautiful, My GF is a Gumiho, My Girl, Sassy Girl Chun Hyang, Hong Gil Dong
The Midas Touch Director
Jin Hyuk PD is sensitive in executing the written stories to moving pictures. That being said he is the kind of director that any writer would want to work with because he visualizes well the scenarios based on the written text. His projects are of different genres, but he can pull it off with breathtaking cinematography and yarning of the story.
NOTABLE WORKS: The Legend of the Blue Sea, The Master’s Sun, City Hunter, Prosecutor Princess, Shining Inheritance, Doctor Stranger