KDrama List and Ratings

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I constantly update this list on the mother page, so if you are reading it through this post, you can check this LINK for the most updated version.  I  have a separate page for my kdrama full series recaps and reviews which links I have included in this list as well.  This page is a good reference point for kdramas over the years since I have included quick reviews of those dramas that I did not write a full review on, but you might be curious if you are going to pick up or not.  There are still some that I have not seen, but I included the titles in case you might need it.  Also Reviews with Strikethroughs are not yet ready.  I will constantly update this page.  ^_^

I have rated it A(for Amazing), B+(for Breathtaking), B(for Beautiful), C+(for Cliche but Charming), C(for Crazy but Tolerable) D(for Disappointing), F(for Forget it).   I added additional tips for your reference.  My recent entries would be on a yearly basis from now on so the most recent dramas would be on the first entries.

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♥ Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017) – If you are on a k-drama slump, this will hook you up back to oppa-land.  The fast paced quirky rom-com promised an addictive run and delivered it in flying colors with a riveting thriller plot incorporated on the side.  It was a whimsical love ride with thugs, a psycho, a police, a gaming company CEO and a woman with extraordinary strength.  The labyrinth was a whirlwind of cuteness and mirth and everything a fan would ask k-drama gods for a gift. Consistently endearing with amusing surprises along the way, “Strong Woman Do Bong Soon” is a steady delightful rom-com drama that deserve all the raves and hype from k-drama followers.

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon Series Review

sweet ride, noona romance, second lead syndrome… this will so far be my best rom-com recommendation

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy, Thriller     GRADE:  A

♥ Radiant Office (2017) – currently airing

♥ Whisper (2017) – currently airing

♥ Perfect Wife (2017) – currently airing

♥ Chief Kim (2017) – currently airing

♥ You Are Too Much (2017) – currently airing

♥ The Liar and His Lover (2017) – currently airing

♥ Tomorrow With You (2017) – This drama felt like a roller-coaster as I hiked on the twists and turns and got lost in time and space continuum.  It might even give a frustrating ride so consider you are forewarned if you are not used to a story that you have to analyze from start to finish.  Nevertheless I got my closure even if they fit it in less than 60 minutes.  So Joon and Ma Rin’s road to ever after was definitely something I would not dare to have, but they gave me lessons on how compromise, patience and love are essentials that secure an unwavering relationship. -jediprincess

Tomorrow With You Series Review

Focus and Patience!  Bring buckets of it when you watch it and you will be rewarded by Lee Je Hoon oppa’s sweet gestures and kisses

GENRE:  Romance, Drama, Supernatural     GRADE:  B

♥ Saimdang, Light’s Diary (2017) – currently airing

♥ Rebel:  The Thief who stole the people (2017) – currently airing

♥ Voice (2017) – review coming up

♥ Defendant (2017) – review coming up

♥ Missing 9 (2017) – parking lot

♥ Hwarang:  the Beginning (2016 – 2017) – Hwarang is definitely at par in terms of effective performance compared to fusion sageuk favorites due to its struggling plot momentum.  I’m not supposed to say this, but the pretty boys were really the reason why I stayed calm on my seat.  hahaha  If not really for their impeccable chemistry and gang fights ala Malfoy’s Gang and Dumbledore’s army, I would have not stayed afloat.

Hwarang Series Review

It was so promising if not for a lot of things that happened and was set aside.  This is where I got my first noona romance with Park Hyung Sik.

GENRE:  Period, Brotherhood, Romance     GRADE:  C

♥ The Lonely Shining Goblin (2016 – 2017) – “Goblin” affirmed my kdrama fan girl spirit with its addictive pace, perceptive characters, detailed back story and the exciting race to its closure.  I was at constant awe at how the yarning of the folklore and supernatural mise en scene fit so perfectly placed in the modern setting.  The cast portraying a whole new chimeric world that I want to be a part of moved through the story seamlessly alternating a wistful and lively performance that burrowed straight to my kdramaaddict heart. *chuckles

Goblin Series Review

The epic bromance and time transcending love will linger for a while in your heart

GENRE: Romance, Supernatural     GRADE:  A

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♥ The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016) – Legend of the Blue Sea was strong on the candied-heart-fluttering moments of Joon Jae and Cheong, but even stronger on relaying the couple’s sweet and yet agonizing journey to endure the love they have in the present in the pretext of a human-mermaid romance impossibility.  It neatly executed the narrative by using simple rules considering its metaphysical premise.  It modernized the reincarnation plot, by playing the resident drama fix of how love overcomes anything and beyond everything. 

Legend of the Blue Sea Series Review

The conman who can read his lady love’s mind sure gave me a lot of happy pills during those times

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy, Fantasy     GRADE:  B+

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♥ Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim (2016) – I admit I was missing Gregory House a lot so I sought comfort in Teacher Kim’s arms.  I have not seen a lot of nicely done medical dramas in kdramaland so I did not set my hopes high in RDTK.  I am glad that the story progressed and closed deftly and neatly along with the surgeries.  A case where “Doctor Crush” suffered.

Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim Series Review

The engrossing narrative and  chemistry of the cast blended so well, I could not ask for more.

GENRE:  Medical, Drama     GRADE:  B+

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♥ The Good Wife (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Legal, Drama   GRADE:

♥ Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016) – I picked “Weightlifting Fairy” as one of the best kdramas of 2016 for being such a genuine coming of age story that beautifully captured the joy and pain and everything in between of being young… of building dreams and of falling in love for the first time. 

Weightlifting Fairy Series Review

Nam Joo Hyuk is kdrama gods’ gift to college girls and college girls at heart

GENRE:  Rom-com, Youth     GRADE:  B+

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♥ Entourage (2016) –  Dropped it somewhere along the way, as there was nothing going on in the story at all… I like Seo Kang Joon, but it was really a sad project.

You are still my crush Seo Kang Joon even when this drama felt like hell

GENRE:  Drama, Comedy, Bromance     GRADE:  F

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♥ Goodbye Mr. Black (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Action, Romance   GRADE:

♥ Jang Young Shil (2016) – parking lot

GENRE: Period, Drama   GRADE:

♥ The Man in Our House (2016) – I love Su Ae in Mask and some more of her works, but there was no hook for me even after watching Ep 8, so I gave up.

Love is not supposed to be inherited from your mom. period.

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy, Drama     GRADE:  D

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♥ Madame Antoine (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Comedy   GRADE:

♥ Neighborhood Lawyer Jo (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Legal, Drama   GRADE:

♥ Something About One Percent (2016) – Something About 1% is a surprise hit for me this year.  I was prepared to drop it after 4 episodes, but boy I fell in love with the kiss scenes, lol I mean the story.  *wink  As Lee Jae In sedated my grieving heart from Scarlet Heart Ryeo, it pushed me back to meaningful existence with his sweet smile and steamy gazes.  This amazingly done rom-com darted cheesy and predictable.  Even now I still wonder how I got so addicted with everything so unadorned about it.

Something About One Percent Series Review

Dear Lee Jae In, you had me at your kisses.

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy   GRADE:  B+

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♥ K2 (2016) – oppa miyane i will work on you soon

K2 Series Review

GENRE:  Action, Drama, Romance     GRADE:

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♥ Dear My Friends (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Drama  GRADE:

♥ Drinking Solo (2016) – What drew me to watching “Drinking Solo” was the simple storytelling, setting and character building.  It was a plain picture of the struggles of students taking lessons to pass the civil service exam and the battles of the instructors in surviving the present day adult life complications versus those idealistic dreams they had when they were young.  The love concerns inserted were additional bonus in amusing myself in watching the cast move on with their fictional life.  

Drinking Solo Series Review

Cheers to a drama that celebrates the singlehood life

GENRE:  Drama, Romantic Comedy     GRADE:  C+

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♥ Beautiful Mind (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Medical, Thriller  GRADE:

♥ Shopping King Louie (2016) – While everything in kdramaland was serious in polishing the story and rendering remarkable character portrayals, “Shopping King Louis” came along like a comfort food frocking in all positivity it can have.  Though having a simple premise, Bok Sil and Louis were entertaining me with their sweet and hilarious chemistry.  The light and upbeat pace matches the optimism of the main leads.  

Shopping King Louie Series Review

This is a good drama to watch after wrenching your heart in Scarlet Heart and Uncontrollably Fond

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy   GRADE:  B

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♥ Oh My Geum Bi (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Family, Comedy   GRADE:

♥ On the Way to the Airport (2016) – We normally get those kind of third-party love affair stories, and we never achieve a proper explanation on the reason why people involve themselves in an illicit affair. “On the way to the Airport” touches this sensitive marital issue in a classy way that will make you cheer and understand why a man and a woman got caught in an entanglement behind their husband and wife’s back. What the story brought about is how marriage can be broken even with the most rational mind when a person finds a willing heart who can share his pain.
I like how subtle the approach is in tackling adultery in the narrative maybe because the writer sketched valid presentation of those phases that make a person lose the love he felt with his lover along the way.

On the Way to the Airport Series Review

How to be unfaithful to your spouse gracefully…

GENRE:  Romance, Drama     GRADE:  B

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♥ Laurel Tree Tailors (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Family   GRADE:

♥ Monster (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Melodrama   GRADE:

♥ Love in the Moonlight aka Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds (2016) – Eventhough Lee Young and Hong Ra On will not be hitting the pinnacle of my best dramas this year, the full drama package was commendable due to its poignant sketching of the main characters and the writer’s impeccable timing to pin me on my spot and not sway away from following the story in those moments when I almost did.  Drawn on a historical premise, “Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds” is a sweet drama treat brimming with giddy-ish scenes that will make you reminisce that once special love when you were young.

Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds Series Review

Crown Prince Park Bo Gum effect at its best

GENRE:  Period, Drama, Romance     GRADE:  B

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♥ Woman with a Suitcase (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Comedy   GRADE:

♥ Moonlovers:  Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016) –  Albeit the tormenting emotional strain I got with Scarlet Heart Ryeo, it will belong on my favorites for this year because I love that it became even more believable and fervent due to the plot’s instability and the main characters indecisiveness.  It was a situation that might have killed the drama, but because the essential character motivations were clearly drawn, as a viewer I enjoyed that feeble  and vulnerable facet of the production.  Even with the unfazed heartrending tone all throughout, I take Scarlet Heart Ryeo with all my heart because I believe that a happy ending does not measure how great a love can be.

Scarlet Heart Ryeo Series Review

The series aftermath pained and haunted me.  4th Prince So, I’m here for you now, tomorrow and everyday in between.

GENRE:  Period, Supernatural, Romance, Melodrama     GRADE:  B

♥ Marriage Contract (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Drama  GRADE:

♥ Fantastic (2016) – Even with the dying premise, I have grown to love “Fantastic” because of the dexterous cast and how they blend together supporting each other’s friendship and stories.  Fantastic is an optimistic story that not only encourages through its love theme, but also with how the main characters were able to leave really cool life lessons as they tackled the roles they played in the narrative.

Fantastic Series Review

The feisty writer and her journey to love and sickness is an uplifting story of how a woman who braves the odds through the encouragement of her loved ones

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy   GRADE:  C+

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♥ Wanted (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Thriller, Drama  GRADE:

♥ Jealousy Incarnate (2016) – Sure, there were a lot going on in “Jealousy Incarnate” that sometimes the sporadic mini plots did not equate well to its overall make, but the eager and vibrant cast made up to that missing push the story failed to achieve.  Honestly the safe ever-after ending failed to complement those strong moments of the lead cast along with the story conflict they had to face together hilariously and painfully.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the sweet ride and the endearing couple who tackled the friendship defying love chase.

Jealousy Incarnate Series Review

It was good while it lasts.  There were highs and lows, but the ending went to autopilot mode

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy     GRADE:  C+

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♥Vampire Detective (2016) – parking lot

GENRE: Supernatural, Action   GRADE:

♥ Cinderella and the Four Knights (2016) – Well at least you can get ample fan service to this story of cousins who were tamed harmoniously by a girl who was hired by their grandfather.  The characters were endearing but the story was too trite.

Cinderella and the Four Knights Series Review

See how much I love you Jung Il Woo oppa?  After your army duty please deviate from this kind of dramas.  

GENRE:  Youth, Romantic Comedy     GRADE:  C+

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♥Let’s Fight Ghost (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Fantasy   GRADE:

♥ W: Two Worlds (2016) – Less the staggering twists and turns that were ever present in the narrative, I still like how “W:TwoWorlds” was so ambitious on how it vividly displayed and chronicled a love story that defied alternate universe.  It maneuvered to constant deviation and possibilities having the premise of “everything is possible to happen as long as they can draw it”.  I love smart characters playing in the story so I have to give it to Yeon Joo on how she perceives efficiently in moments when Kang Chul is hindered by the limitations of his heroic role which was dependent on his fictional character.  All throughout its showing, I was immersed on the extent of chimeric world the story would thread to, even when it hit a frustrating circle, but then it bounced back to a neatly delineated denouement although I would have wanted for another hour of extension.  

W Two Worlds Series Review

Interesting Note:  It would have been so perfect if not for the midway confusion and safe landing

GENRE:  Supernatural, Romance, Thriller     GRADE:  B

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♥Mrs. Cop 2 (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Crime, Thriller  GRADE:

♥ Age of Youth (2016) – Tailored to show the common faces of women, this honest drama has a melancholic resonance as it progressed to strengthening the bond of the 5 women living together in a dormitory who all have baggages from their past that haunt them in their present lives.  “Age of Youth” is a retrospective youth drama about women in their 20’s. The five ladies promenaded their love inhibitions, self-esteem issues, school worries, what happens after school disappointments and all the rest of typical predicaments, 20’s women usually worry about.

Age of Youth Series Review

GENRE:  Youth, Drama, Romance     GRADE:  B

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♥Miss Temper and Nam Jun Gi (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Comedy   GRADE:

♥ Uncontrollably Fond (2016) – The thing about Uncontrollably Fond is that it tapped into those memories of lost and depressing love that people don’t want to look back anymore in their lives.  It was not a happy-ever-after kind of romance that appeals typically to almost anyone, instead it delved to the most shameful, most regretful and most painful things anyone can do because of love.  Uncontrollably Fond won’t appeal to those who craved light and sweet type of romantic stories you can indulge to this narrative but be aware that you will be put on tormenting spot most of the time.  Though deemed to have been badly written, there was a thread that held the loyal viewers and that’s the dying scenario of the lead man.  I stayed until the end because I believe that not all love stories are wrapped in kisses and sweet memories.  There are those that are melancholic and yet lives on as someone’s one great love.

Uncontrollably Fond Series Review

Disclaimer:  Prepare a lot of tissue and patience

GENRE:  Melodrama, Romance     GRADE:  C+

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♥ This Week My Wife is Having an Affair (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Comedy   GRADE:

♥ Doctors (2016) – I credit the starpower of the cast for raking in high ratings.  Even though the story did not deserve it at the very least.  When the surgeries took over the story, it was a feeling of journeying to Mt. Mordor to destroy the one ring of them all for me.  I was tired needing an elixir of life that would push me to understand if I was watching a drama or I’m learning to become a doctor through a confused medical documentary.  The writing was so bad it did not even complement the character sketches when they could have expanded it more given the complexity of the main roles drawn.  A little believable sprinkle of love complications would have broken the languid development of the story, but they throw in a lovable second male lead who settled to the proverbial fate of second lead syndrome.

Doctors Series Review

Disclaimer:  Kim Rae Won oppa wae?! wae?! wae?!

GENRE:  Medical, Melodrama     GRADE:  C

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♥ Oh Hae Young Again (2016) – Another Oh Hae Young took me by surprise because I was not hooked on its opening episodes.  I gave it another chance because I know how great Eric Moon was in his previous roles and I’m happy I didn’t give up easily.  The love progression was realistic and at the same time surreal.  It tapped on those moments when we were all left hanging and indecisive to admit that we were in love.

OH HAE YOUNG AGAIN SERIES REVIEW

Romance Meter:  Messy, heartfelt and blissfully sweet

GENRE:  Romance, Melodrama, Comedy     GRADE:  A

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♥ Task Force 38 (2016) – Task Force 38 is straight to the point with the premise, the conflict, and how the people moving in the story resolved and closed it.  It helped that even with the serious topic, the protagonists were drawn as suave robinhood and upright citizen who only wanted to make sure that no one is above the law in paying taxes.  True it made use of an illegal approach to defeat the baddies by brewing schemes to make them forcedfully pay what they owe which is still technically bad, but it fairly explained the limited options in stopping corruption when the people responsible for it are puppets of organized crime group.  Life really has inconvenient realities that can’t be dealt with by justice.  So as long as you get to the resolution even if the means defy law as long as there are no life threatened, then just settle with it.

Task Force 38 Series Review

Plus Factor:  The con team blended so well

GENRE:  Crime, Heist, Drama     GRADE: B  

♥ Mirror of the Witch (2016) – I have a thing for witchcraft stories that’s maybe why I found the story appealing.  The magical rules mixed with folklore and saving the long lost princess sprinted to a sporadic run, but managed to enchant me up until the very last round.  Mirror of the Witch target specific audience like me who believe Hogwarts really exist.  Though lacking in terms of polished storytelling, stubborn conflicts and saddening ending, if you want a breather or an alternative to kdrama cliches then plunge on it.

Mirror of the Witch Series Review

Interesting Note:  The supernatural ride was frustratingly fun

GENRE:  Supernatural, Romance     GRADE:  C

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♥ Beautiful Gong Shim (2016) – A typical neighborhood love that bloomed from pure trust and understanding between unexpected friends and their journey to acknowledge that they were built so perfectly for each other because it is their destiny to fall in love eventually. Crossing the line between friends and romance requires a courageous stance that you know what you are doing and you are prepared to take a leap of faith. Love is not romance until it is reciprocated. The impeccable sassy and cheesy chemistry of Dan Tae and Gong Shim has had me on laughing fits most of the time.  Their comic characters were drawn so well and so compatible to each other that they compensated to the predictable plot of the series.  KDramas are known for the weird-looking kisses but the delightful love couple made sure to redefine the awkward kiss scenes and made me giggle a lot with the enchanting build up of their love story.

BEAUTIFUL GONG SHIM SERIES REVIEW

Interesting Note:  For some odd reason it will endear you with its simplicity

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy     GRADE:  C+

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♥  Lucky Romance (2016) – The yin-yang love battle between the science oriented lead man and the superstitious heroine started cute, stayed sweet and hilarious but pushed its luck too far in securing a safe ending.  That being said, I won’t whine but I won’t give high praises for it.  Lucky romance is like your summer fling, it was good while it lasted, but then eventually when it ended, there was no lingering feeling.

LUCKY ROMANCE SERIES REVIEW

Sad Note:  It has a lot of promise but…the heroine was indecisive and full of worries

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy  GRADE:  C

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♥ One More Happy Ending (2016) – Cooked and prepared like your average romcom, One More Happy Ending was a delightful watch.  I would like also to applaud the strong side stories of the supporting characters which were equally vibrant as the main love story.  The plot delved on the varying emotions of women struggling to keep up with love and relationship.  The marriage camp and relationship board sticker ideas were also some of the cutesies I will remember about this refreshing romcom.  This most likely will appeal to singles in 30’s who have failed their marriage once… who are finding the love lost along the way in their current marriage… who are unsure of finally settling down and who have been waiting for the right person to come along.

ONE MORE HAPPY ENDING SERIES REVIEW

love second chances affirming drama

GENRE:  Rom-com, Friendship     GRADE:  C+

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♥ Come Back Ajussi (2016) – parking lot or will watch it again if Rain oppa will give a good kdrama in the future.  I just can’t go back without dozing on it anymore.

Crazy note:  The cast was great, the writing was not

GENRE:  Romance, Supernatural     GRADE:  D

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♥ Entertainer (2016) – Sadly, in my melancholic attempt to look back on “Entertainer”, there’s nothing much that I remember about it, no matter how much heart Ji Sung oppa gave to the drama.  The story as a whole was not something that I would reminisce in the future.   Sure there were a little highlighted moments especially those musical performances but they were overshadowed by the lack of the vibrancy of the storytelling.   So I’ll be making this a very quick review.  Skip it when you have a pile of kdrama on queue to watch.  Even if you will watch it for Ji Sung oppa, there’s nothing much oppa-happiness-pill that you would get anyway, so settle with other dramas that would make the most out of your time.  I watched it because I was counting on Ji Sung oppa’s choice given that I liked most of the dramas he did, but there’s really nothing much going on. 

ENTERTAINER SERIES REVIEW

Disclaimer:  Remember how sad it was when Dobby died

You would wonder how Ji Sung oppa even took this drama

GENRE:  Drama, Musical, Romance     GRADE:  D

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♥ Flower in Prison (2016) – Bracing myself with a lengthy period drama run, what hooked my loyalty to weekender “Flower in Prison” was its balanced execution of political struggle, neat narrative, infuriating villains and optimistic underdogs. I journeyed with the heroine Ok Nyeo in exploring the situation of state prison, merchant organization as well as the early days of defending crime convicted victims who can’t fend for themselves circa Joseon era.

FLOWER IN PRISON SERIES REVIEW

Disclaimer:  It had a pretty much brilliant run, but a little frustrating in the end

GENRE:  Period, Drama     GRADE:  B+

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♥ Five Children (2016) – Second serving of love has never been this lively until these adorable families connected through marriages and made their family even bigger, wackier and happier.  “Five Children” was the first family weekend drama I finished and it was a feat I’m so proud of because it was 54 episodes.

FIVE CHILDREN SERIES REVIEW

Interesting Note:  The secondary romance were better than the main one

GENRE:  Family, Romance     GRADE:  B

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♥ Jackpot (2016) – Jackpot managed to nail the fundamental elements of a historical drama.  It has a thrilling plot with Joseon gambling scene on the side, birth secret and family issues, conspiracy woven conflicts and the strong showdowns of the villain and the hero. Though it may not be perfect, it presented a solid story that didn’t go astray but focused on the main character’ discovery of the lessons they have to learn on their own journeys.

JACKPOT SERIES REVIEW

GENRE:  Historical, Drama  GRADE:  C+

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♥ The Neighborhood Hero (2016) – parking lot I still trust you Park Shi Hoo oppa

Neighborhood Hero Series Review

GENRE:  Thriller, Drama, Crime     GRADE:

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♥ Descendants of the Sun (2016) Creating a 3rd Hallyu wave, Descendants of the Sun defied the spring boring drama stigma and emerged with an amazing story that captured the hearts of the viewers.  Definitely one of the best for 2016.

Descendants of the Sun Series Review

Romance Meter:  Captain Yoo Si Jin was made for us girls but let’s have some boundaries.  I will take the lips.  *blush

Addiction Alert:  Will Hook you from Episode 1

GENRE:  Romance, Drama    GRADE:  A

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♥ Signal (2016) – Signal tells about two police officers from the past and present communicating through a broken radio in solving cases that were happening in the past and were re-opened from cold cases vault in the present.  The cases involved led them to discovering the connection they had in the past and the clues from the present to be given, so the future can be changed to save them and their loved ones.

Signal Korean Drama Series Review

Plus Factor:  Brilliant use of time element

GENRE:  Thriller, Drama     GRADE:  B+

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♥ Master God of Noodles (2016) – parking lot

GENRE:  Romance, Drama   GRADE:

♥ Cheese in the Trap (2016) – I don’t know how to start my thoughts about this drama but I will try.  It felt like that sweetest romance you had which turned a nightmare overnight.  I want to blame the writer and PD for sleepwalking somewhere, but out of the initial cutesies  and romance, I will try  to be forgiving.  It was still not as bad as “Big” drama but it was a case of a company not being able to put up with its employees’ rallies settled amicably to giving some chocolates, going to the moon and just disappearing to the unknown.  Haha

Cheese in the Trap Series Review

Disclaimer:  The love vibes was vibrant on the first half and just like a playful love… but it disappeared without any explanation

GENRE:  Romantic Comedy  GRADE:  D

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♥ Remember: Son’s War (2016) – Remember:  Son’s War came strong to my attention once it hit the TV waves.  It was heading in a thrilling direction where revenge is the premise and where the characters can’t trust one another.

Remember:  Son’s War Series Review

Cry-o-Meter:  Prepare half tissue roll for the heartfelt scenes

GRADE:  Court Drama, Revenge     GRADE:  B Read more

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dear Goblin, saranghae.

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1.  Hello  breathtaking cinematography!
2.  Gong Yoo oppa in long mane and warrior clothing is hot.
3.  Thank kdramagod we don’t linger much on the backstory.
4.  That is a fiery red scarf.
5.  If the Grim Reaper with kissable lips will escort me to after life, I will gladly oblige.
6.  The gutsy heroine had me at that cheery love declaration.
7.  Autumn in Canada is pretty.
8.  Cohabitation with two hot guys with supernatural powers is such an intoxicating kdrama plot.
9.  Goblin and Grim Reaper struggling with smartphone is epic.
10.  Goblin ruminating on the pros and cons of loving his bride is hilariously cute.
11.  I’ve got to give it to Lee Dong Wook for bringing out the Grim Reaper’s adorable character.
12.  Goblin and Grim Reaper is the best bromance ever.
13.  Seriously, that villain is creepy.
14.  All the pieces are laid out, it breaks my heart on the ill-fated love of Wang Yeo and the Queen.
15.  *sob This Wang Yeo – Kim Shin reveal drained my tears.
16.  Hail to the second leads and to that emotional kiss-me-forget-me scene.
17.  Wow!  Just wow!  That Episode 13 is like a full movie in acting and plot scale magnitude.
18.  True love rules!  Yay for Eun Tak summoning Goblin back from limbo.
19.  Just as how I love the pain, forgiveness and reconciliation between Goblin and Grim Reaper, I was sad to see Reaper voyage to his next life.
20.  How many times are you going to make me cry?  Why did she have to die?
21.  Dear Goblin, it’s me Abby.  I’m here for you, I still have three lives in case your bride will take time to reincarnate.
22.  I wish Sunny and Grim Reaper’s future lives linger more, but it’s the drama’s last episode.
23.  I think any girl wishes now to have a summoning power to the man they love.
24.  Oh there you are Ji Eun Tak, yes Maam, you are the one and only Goblin’s bride.
25.  Goodbye Goblin!  *saranghae

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Arguably the best korean drama that aired for 2016, “Goblin” affirmed my kdrama fan girl spirit with its addictive pace, perceptive characters, detailed back story and the exciting race to its closure.  I was at constant awe at how the yarning of the folklore and supernatural mise en scene fit so perfectly placed in the modern setting.  The cast portraying a whole new chimeric world that I want to be a part of moved through the story seamlessly alternating a wistful and lively performance that burrowed straight to my kdramaaddict heart. *chuckles

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Cursed to immortality, a Goryeo warrior captain lived for 9 centuries waiting for his bride that will vanquish the jinx laid by a deity.  He finally meets his bride who has the ability to see ghost and has been aware of her status through the metaphysical grapevine gossips she heard through the years.  Goblin fell in love with her in the process and she is all willing to wield the sword stuck on his chest not knowing that by doing so, it will make him vanish.  Their romance bloomed fully, but they had to face the villain responsible for Goblin’s immortal fate.  Goblin used the stuck sword to finally kill the ghost fiend and was transported to a limbo clear of his initial curse, but trapped and had to journey for years to be with his bride again.  10 years later, Eun Tak who has always been bothered by missing pieces she felt in her heart but lost in her memories, summoned Goblin back to her world through her honest and painful longing.  Goblin worked on winning her back and her memories of him were retrieved and they finally tied the knot.  Just as they had a taste of the love they so bravely fought, Eun Tak who has lived a borrowed life faced death when she sacrificed herself to save a bus loaded with school children.  Years after, Eun Tak was reincarnated on her second life and sought the man she vowed she will only love for the rest of their lifetimes.

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The summary does not justify all that happened in the story as the cast were intricately connected through their past and present lives.  What made Goblin such a novelty for a love story with transcendental element is how it neatly blended the mystical notes and sensible realities to propel the narrative without losing focus and as simply told as it can be.  The drama made me yearn a romantic interlude with men like Goblin or Grim Reaper.  I was on a long moony phase struck with the impact of the characters who fervidly brought life to their sketched personas.

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 Goblin marked all the bullet points of a lingering story eventhough the metaphysical milieu was very tricky. Although set on a melancholic tone, the dynamics of the cast and the lively humor cushioned the viewers so well given its inevitable tragic scenario ending.  At times there are moments when it was languid, but it was necessary for the built up of the character connections to make the climactic conflict confrontation solid and stunning.

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Breathtaking – Goblin has always been beautifully done from its cinematography, storyline and character portrayals.  The writer did a lot of impossible tweaks and conceived an intricate realm and made sure that she will succeed on the labyrinth she has set for her story.  With actors embracing their roles so well, the exquisite tale of a man searching for the woman to end his immortality curse established a memory that kdramaland followers will still love in the future.

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There are a lot of things to rave about “Goblin”, but I feel like Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook’s stellar chemistry in their very own bromantic world was what kept me in love with this drama as a whole.  Sure the love lines for the main and second leads were notable, but the supernatural boys swept me off my feet with how they kept up with human induced emotional conflicts that their powers can’t resolve.  Kim Go Eun and Yoo In Na were both amazing in their roles and a great support to the main character’s chronicle.  The heartrending love rides these foursome sojourned yielded a memorable impact due to the efficient layering of the reincarnation plot.

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Goblin explored the boundless creativity of Korean culture through writer Kim Eun Sook’s sweet story manipulation.  See for yourself why this drama raised a cult following.

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KDrama Bucket Listing: Bundling Kdramas by Trusting the Writer or the PD

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.

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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

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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

 

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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

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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

 

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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

 

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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20-10 Kdrama Addiction Challenge:  My 20 Best Korean Dramas of the last 10 Years

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aigoo  My head burst in selecting the best of the best from my memories.  I stayed strict to my simple qualifications of breakthrough writing, brilliant directing and beautiful cast portrayal.  This will be my first entry for this kdrama challenge and I’m excited to fill my list on my future posts.

Korean dramas have evolved to the most innovative themes in the past years.  The competition  is stiff and if the yearly trend is set, production companies will make their drama even more superb than the copied idea.  

There are myriad of stories to choose from in kdramaland hence the growing popularity in the world.  My last rule in this list stripped my being romantic self and reminded me to choose the most polished and creatively conceived story and not the main lead that made my heart fluttered.  *chuckles

So here are my picks for the best 20 kdramas in the last 10 years.

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Jumong:  Prince of the Legend (2007)

GENRE:  Period, Action, Romance, Drama, War

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This loooong period drama is the proof of my unwavering commitment to South Korean dramas.  *chuckles  While journeying with Jumong to the endless political wars, rooting for his love fulfilment with Seo So No and his ascencion to the empire he built, I learned about korean history, war strategies, economic principles and winning over people’s greed.  You know that Machiavelli book about politics and governance, skip that and watch Jumong for a more interactive education.  I promise it is more enjoyable.  Jumong managed to maintain the excitement even with its long run.  It made use of detailed and thrilling storytelling that hooked me to connect with the main hero.  True, there will be a lot going on in the story, so you might as well take notes and don’t fall asleep because when you wake up a lot already happened.  *giggles

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City Hall (2009)

Genre:  Drama, Romance, Comedy

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This politics based romance drama crawled in my heart without me realizing it.  It beat the regular favorites Coffee Prince, Goong and even My Lovely Samsoon to get to the top of my list, because it’s not your conventional drama with cushioned and frosted romance.  It is a love story where the prince did not rescue his damsel in distress, but pushed her to be brave and resolve things on her own.  With an uncomplicated premise, the writing was exceptionally thought provoking for women experiencing challenges in finding their worth not in the standard of what the society dictates but on the dreams they have as a woman.  A memorable performance for Kim Sun Ah and Cha Seung Won with a bonus heartfelt love story on the side.

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Dong Yi (2010)

Genre:  Historical, Romance, Drama

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It was beautifully imagined and crafted.  The conspiracies, surprise moves, evil ways, and fighting the evil ways are the reasons why I stayed afloat finishing this 60 episode period drama.  Dong Yi displayed such appealing and stimulating TV drama while presenting the richness and intricacies of Korean culture. More than how they presented the elaborated palace life, power struggles, vibrancy of the culture, I love that the narration was so subtle in its approach and yet so daring on its conviction.  The story was well developed and connected. I appreciate that they minimize the number of villains because I can only hold contempt of three to five people at the same time.  The beginning was dishearteningly good, the ending will make you pull the strings for it to end out of weary, if not for the fact that you so wanted to know what will happen to the bad guys… Now the middle part…. that was the best part of the series.  

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Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010)

GENRE:  Period (sageuk fusion), Romance, Comedy

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 I present you “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” – the drama that changed my belief that sageuk presentations are not fun.  A bromance-filled tale incorporating a touch of traditional Korean history and way of living made the series so riveting, you will find yourself insatiable with the charm it has cast upon you.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal was a Hana Kimi-Boys-Over-Flower-fusion set in the Joseon era.  This is where I suffered the most mind-boggling Second-Lead-Man syndrome, in the end the second-lead prevailed.  *chuckles  This is a kind of school life every girl wished for, having three gorgeous men as your friends and even two fighting for your heart. Considering the setting was in traditional times, they were able to execute love melting and love sighing scene while studying in the library, getting stranded inside a wooden elevator, and all the rest of those happy moments shared by the Sungkyunkwan Scholars. Despite the political strain conflict, what I loved most on Sungkyunkwan was that it was full of optimism and the bravery of the characters stood alone making each of their portrayals worth remembering.   The drama gave epic romantic scenes, REALLY EPIC… the kind of sweet love scenes that when you tell your friends, you get transported back to the moment where you were actually watching it. *promise

 

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Secret Garden (2010)

GENRE:  Fantasy, Romance, Comedy

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The sparkling tracksuit, the sweet sit-up kiss and coffee kiss, the hilarious body swap and Hyun Bin’s melting gaze were some of the things that I remember most about “Secret Garden”.  It was a breather from prototype romcoms with its perfect blending of fantasy and romance and with its main love couple’s reversal of roles having a strong heroine and a weak-hearted but charming lead man.

“Secret Garden” is your drama to see when you want a kdrama marathon vacation.  It played well in keeping its excitement stable and hit a love progression where the viewers were left all cheering for it to happen.  The fantasy body-switching plot was a brilliant addition to keep the story bubbly but the strength of how the love couple communicated or should I say bicker along the way eventually realizing they were both rendered by the love bind they threw at each other unconsciously.

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The Greatest Love (2011)

GENRE:  Romance, Comedy

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The love drama staged in the showbiz land exhibited a top actor in his prime and a struggling actress who used to be from a famous girl group but was condemned unfairly by the public’s judgment.  In a series of forming-a-love-story event, their lives sort of crossing their paths every now and then and before he knew it, the cutely egoistic and blithely mischievous Dokko Jin’s protective instinct was awakened by the pure, sometimes vulnerable, but never failing to be optimistic and to trust in life character of Ae-jung.

This is my favorite battle-for-the-leading-lady’s-heart showcase, as the two lead men warmed my love veins with their creativity to let Ae Jung noticed how much they love her. The Greatest Love was like a heroin disarming me from earthly life making me thrive inside my protective romance bubble.  It was done short and sweet with basket full of romance delivered personally by cupid to all of us.

 

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City Hunter (2011)

GENRE:  Action, Drama, Romance, Thriller

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This action-filled series was definitely all business.  The reckless City Hunter left me awe-struck and wanting to be kidnapped and wishing he would rescue me.  Lee Min Ho playing devil-may-care-ass-kicking-casanova was enough not to scroll down the teaser and go straight on board the drama.  I should know.  I did.

With a pinch of romance, gorgeous fight scenes and definitive plot, City Hunter raised the bar to action drama set in modern times.  The nifty plot left life lessons and each episode was done where the tussles did not exhaust the viewers but left them wanting for more.

Directing and editing wise, this is one of those dramas which knew how to pull cliff hangers even to the finale episode where the hate-you-love-you character of Jin-pyo showed a befitting redemption.  I really thought his dark heart will not be swayed otherwise and that finale scene sent me moping reminiscing Vader saving Luke when the remaining inconspicuous goodness in his heart reminded him that he was his son regardless.  

The main character ensembles were so buffed making the story ever moving and exciting.  The show stopper “ajussi” and his online shopping addiction made me look like an occasional shopper.  The other dark apprentice was also oozingly hot orchestrating ruckus for City Hunter.  I liked that Kim Nana was also strong-willed and that he didn’t go to the usual sometimes mopey and always looking for a rescue lead woman.  Overall, this is a drama that will satisfy your cravings and your mind maunderings.  It was exceptionally done and a must see Kdrama delight.

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Ghost (2012)

GENRE:  Drama, Cyber crime, Action

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There were no guns triggered… no swords drawn… it was a battle between heroes and villains equipped with digital powers. It was an enthralling power game that involved, system hacking, all-knowing CCTV cameras, secret bugging, and heroes and villains almost equally genius to take one step ahead of each other.

Ghost/Phantom broke my love drama binge 360 degrees and I was left dumbstruck and on a cliff hanging state all throughout the series. I was like in a trampoline were I was bouncing up and down without the rush hitting the bottom level.  Ghost/Phantom will hold your interest in a very gripping fashion. The cunning power plays and counter measures were ever present to the story as it progressed. The brilliantly done ending emancipated the withheld secrets that were carefully and niftily hidden to achieve a closure befitting of this cyber world investigating drama classic.  Be prepared to be stimulated and trust me there will be no give-aways here… so you cannot defocus less you will be lost in the story.

The race on who gets to maneuver efficiently the power of the computers will earn the opposing team an instant digital karma so all the while, the villains and heroes have worked double time to raise the bar in outwitting one another.  If you want a breather from rom-coms, this cyber-crime drama should be on your list. The dexterous cast and perceptive plot will take you all the way to an exciting oblivion where you will feel like you are also part of this amazing team of cyberspace police officers.

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Queen In Hyun’s Man  (2012)

GENRE:  Romcom, Time traveling

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It’s over and done but Queen In Hyun’s Man now Abby’s man has left me insatiable.  The drive to bring the viewers to a spontaneous romance binge whilst holding the reign to an incessantly bewitching plot was quenchless and I thank kdramagod for that.  

“Queen In Hyun’s Man” disarmed me each and every episode with the deviant drama pulls and how it went maverick to what I was predicting to happen.  I had to grab my tarot card to check if my seer abilities need a refresher.  It deviated from the typical KDrama conflict norms of unresolved unfinished love issues, family problems, useless vengeance driven characters, personal exhausting battles and all those other tiring fillings they would insert to make the spectators just go with the flow. 

Given the time-voyaging premise of the story, I was amazed on how the production team worked on the smooth transitions.  It was playing at past and present ends without losing the spontaneity and fluidity of the story.  The writer whom I stalked from then on was a delightfully mischievous conceiver who got down to the nitty-gritty of the screenplay and pulling off the conflicts and its deliverance in a make-sense and you-got-me-there kind of vibe.  It was a supernatural rom-com drama at its best, no questions asked, period.

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The King 2 Hearts (2012)

GENRE:  Drama, RomCom, Thriller

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King 2 Hearts was staged in a quasi-utopian Korean world where the North and South Koreans are sort of in peaceful communicating terms.

King 2 Hearts has always been polished, calculated but never failing to entice and push me to my assumed outcomes. That being said, what I applaud about this drama is how it seems predictable but will prove the viewers otherwise.  It met all the criteria for a superb kdrama and ended with conviction.  It has one of the most memorable villain who graced the evil camp land and it broke the struggle on second-lead-syndrome by killing off the character.  It was an honest story yet tender at the same time.

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Gaksital/Bridal Mask (2012)

GENRE:  Period, Action, War, Romance

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Move over Ajussi, City Hunter, Masked Rider Black, Shaider, Spiderman, Superman, Batman… and all the rest of those superheroes who took the imaginary world by storm… Gaksital has only a  flute and superb martial arts move, but for the first time in my life, I fell in love with a local hero.  A bromance defying all bromance invented… *giggles  Every episode, if not the same intensity as the last, always ended at a very strong note.  I found myself immensely enjoying the gun shots, punch sounds, skin rips, sword slashes, blood spatters, and cat-and-mouse chase.

Gaksital went to this milieu… “I accidentally killed my brother because our mother was killed by my bestfriend’s brother.  So I killed my bestfriend’s brother, but he caught me doing it and because of the circumstances and my family’s past which was just revealed to me when I have already denounced my patriotism to favor the Japanese empire, I’m not sorry I did it. A test of best-friends-forever pledge.  Yes, that it was.” How’s that for a conflict?  Not to add that they both love the same girl whom they met when they were young.  Avenging the death of their family members, first love duel plus fighting the Japanese regime.  If this looks crazy in writing, it was astonishingly gripping in action.

There are a lot of reasons why I would highly recommend this drama but I’ll start with its strength to depict a stimulating story brimming with facets of history and layered with conflicts and resolutions that disheartened and made me happy at the same time.  It was as if my father’s World War stories came to life, and I can only imagine how life was hard back then.    I’m enjoying period dramas lately, there’s just so much to learn that’s why maybe.  It has so much depth and substance and youth of today will learn a lot from it.  It was an epic tale that perfectly bloomed along with the characters and was so successful in sending out the Patriotic theme where love, loyalty, family and friendship where at stake. 

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Master’s Sun (2013)

GENRE:  RomCom, Supernatural

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Once in a while a surprisingly good love story would remind me why I became addicted to Korean Romantic Comedies.  In the sea of dramas where stories are usually woven from the rich-boy-poor-girl love affair or the male-pretending-lead-girl, a you-and-me-against-the-ghosts love story hit all the romantic nerves in my body even with its comic spooky vibes. 

“The Master’s Sun” has given me a lot of elating moments and back-to-when-I-had-my-first-love heart fluttering scenes.   In a way the calculated but not false-hope promising story pace has made me join the lead love couple in discovering the reasons why they fell in love with each other alongside why they were in denial and scared to admit it. 
When you have a stubborn romantic lead man who with-and-without amnesia know how to claim the heart of the woman he loves and a heroine who struggles in confusion to the path on how she is supposed to love her man, it will give you a love tale full of acceptance and understanding.  It will inspire you to trust why your heart fell in love with the person and how your mind will be overpowered by reasons.  

 It was a nicely blended romance which showed a love pair growing together while understanding why they both need each other. It was a relationship where the couple did what they can do so that they won’t end up in the position where they will ask “what they could have done”. Being with someone is not half-loving yourself and half-loving him. It should be loving the person with all you can.

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You Who Came From Another Star (2014)

GENRE:  RomCom, Scifi, Supernatural

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Rarely did a Korean romcom drama approach me and sweep me off of my feet every episode up to the finale, and to say that I was happy throughout my drama-stalking was an understatement, I was so elated with it.  You see, love stories need not to be so big romantic kind of way, not that I didn’t like the “alien-who-loved-me” twist but “You From Another Star” drew a great following because of the vibrant characters who has really brought to life their fictional images to an unforgettable and you-can’t-help-but-relate-to kind of way. I think the lightness of the conflicts and not involving much negative emotion, but focusing on making the lead couple work their way to defy the cosmic problem inhibiting them from being together gave a gratifying closure for the story.  You see once in a while jealousy, greed, family intervention, amnesia and annoying 3rd parties are not required to create a heartfelt love tale, you only need two hearts that love bravely and love back deeply.
Feisty and fun, it has surely and splendidly built up the conflict, the romance, and the conflicting romance, binding me in perplexing contemplation on how a drama with typical romcom premise surged a romantic bliss, never looking back and coming strongly and  surely each chronicle episode and seemingly faultless in executing the how-to-make-a-perfect-romcom guidelines.
Fate, chance encounters and brave “i-love-you-right-now claims have never been so perfectly achieved until this love story graced kdrama screen and though there were minimal things that I wished was explained fully, I didn’t care less because the love progress moved to a pace where the character’s connection is sensitive to the story they are into, while the story glued out perfect pieces of events that maybe kdrama cliche, but were effectively used and concluded just the same.

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Nine Times Travel (2014)

GENRE:  Drama, Romance, Supernatural

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Notching superbly those climactic cliff-hangers and seamlessly presented the consistent timeline transitions and convergence, this drama would have mocked all the time-traveling stories that graced dramaland.  My Sherlock veins was immensely gratified that I paid less attention to the romantic side which in all fairness was also a satisfying bliss.  It was a balanced fusion of a character and plot-driven tale where its incredulous premise was chronicled unembellished and not leaning to injecting inconceivable trajectories due to its supernatural setting.

It was the story of a man who obtained 9 incense sticks that functioned as a time-trekking machine which helped him leave clues to his past self in escaping his looming death in the future.  His time warping brought him to events of 20 years ago and divulged pieces of information that his future self utilized to change the course of time in the past to protect the people he loved and his soon to be taken away life.  The incomprehensible plot paraded a stunning picture closed to perfection where I was set into constant debate with my thoughts, but Nine Times Travel was always emerging victorious when I’m deconstructing the path and curves on where it was heading.

It was an exceptional labyrinth themed story where the enchanted incense sticks functioned like Ariadne showing proudly the coherent flow of events and the liaison of the past and present time.
With its smart characters, nifty writing and dexterous editing I fell in love with this drama big time.

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Healer (2014)

GENRE: Drama, Action, Romance

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Healer is one of the best korean dramas you should include in your list if you haven’t seen it yet.  It has a brilliant premise about a one-of-a-kind hero who chose to disconnect from the society, but accidentally grew attachment to a woman who drew him out of his hibernation.  The drama quaintly linked the furtive relationship of the characters while building up the plot’s climax and romance to perfection.  It is so addictive, stimulating and amusing — and that one drama you can sit on with family, friends and even your lover.  I’m almost two years late to review this drama but I hope you can find time to watch one of the best dramas on my list.

The story’s main conflict focused on peeling the truth behind the lead couple’s fathers’ death while journeying on their fated love.  It aligned to Healer’s character strength to propel the excitement while he did his gripping missions… circled on Young Shin’s character as the focal tug-of-war battle between the Moon brothers’ villain and hero complicated relationship and surged high to the my-father-might-have-killed-your-father-but-i-promise-i-love-you-and-i-will-protect-you love plot of the main leads. Healer justified the superb writing with how the characters went passionately driven to bring out a scintillating storytelling.  While a lot progressed in the story, it never missed it steps in binding the romance, the back story and the conflicts together.

The story got so intoxicating because it assimilated Healer’s Promethean skills and heartfelt media coverage to battle the conscience-less power players of the country.  When your cast is smart and the writing is nifty, there’s no way the notes will not be hit. 

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Misaeng (2014)

GENRE:  Melodrama, Drama

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Without supernatural intervention or genius fusion ideas, I landed on a pensive mode while watching the reflective and heart wrenching workplace drama “Misaeng”. And it’s very rare for me to do so because my excessively diverted mind usually craves for something different and evolving but with Misaeng, I was sent back to ponder on my forgotten dreams, regrets and what-nows?

Misaeng provided an engaging experience for me because of its wonderful cast and their interaction. Though mostly shot in the office premise, the candid pantry small talks, the rooftop heartfelt confrontations, the cubicle power struggles were able to capture in detail and in pure emotions the many faces of employees struggling everyday to get their job done.  It was like stepping to a company’s door, sitting silently in a corner while you watch all of the employees get to their job. For the jobless and people who wish for a different job it would be a great encouraging watch.

It is hard these days to find a human TV drama that follows the fundamentals of how and why storytelling emerged to inspire people.  We frequently have to see stories to escape from the problems we are facing so sitting down upfront a courageous and flaw-filled human nature TV presentation chronicling what is true and happening, what we hide to people relying on us and what we don’t want to admit to ourselves because of too much pride has had me really feel high spirited to surmise that fulfilling personal goals need not be happening in an instant and all at the same time.

With its simplicity and amazing depiction of the daily life of the working class, Misaeng is no frills, never superficial and all heart and a must watch for all of us on board and soon to be boarding on the corporate world. 

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Punch (2015)

GENRE:  Courtroom Drama

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Awed and at the edge of my seat every episode’s finishing kick, I can’t help but wondered how brilliant the writer of this story by bringing out a drama where heroes and villains don’t waste time outmanipulating each other to secure the highest possible position befitting to their greed and wickedness.  With a dying man as a lead hero in charge to intellectually brawl with his superiors in the Prosecutor’s office, the stake was always at the highest as the people involved raced to protect their families, reputations and personal ambitions.

Punch is a literal badass with its scintillating and intelligent writing.  It was full of surprises that will make the viewers grab their hair out of frustration.  I wondered how much hate the writer might have stored in himself to motivate him to write a chronicle that was able to maintain a level of grit all throughout his depiction of the corrupt Korean Prosecutors Office.    It was a nerve wrecking display of shrewdness played equally well by all the characters who was in the running to claim the most cunning of ’em all crown.

 

Reply 1988 (2015)

GENRE:  Drama, Period, Romance

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They say that as you age along, you get more sentimental as you look back on what has happened in your life. Sitting on this neighborhood drama set between 1988 – 1995 made me reminisce the good old days of endearing family love and friendship full of memories and laughter. “Answer me 1988” pays homage to the irreplaceable bliss of being young – of our young dreams and our young love. It gives you a trip to memory lane when technology hasn’t taken over the world yet— when friends meet up at a house to watch movies, to eat and to chat and when romance comes true by heartfelt love declarations, stolen kisses and warm hugs.

Hands down to the extent of the research and the meticulously vibrant writing that were fused together to bring up a chronicle that warms the heart and lingers in one’s mind. The setting, side stories and the cast ensemble will make the viewers feel like stepping to a time-warping machine and bringing out the best memories we could ever have in our lives.

 I only have the very best things to say for the neighborhood I grew fond watching, for the childhood buddies who defined lifetime friendship and for the sincere love that bloomed from the purest friendship and memories.  Delving on nostalgic premise “Reply 1988” brilliantly use sweet melancholia by sending the viewers back to their very own youth, like it did to me. It made me want to pay a short visit to the street I grew up with and reminisce the times when I hang out with my childhood friends to play traditional local games. It made me glad that most of my precious memories were not digitally induced as is the case of the youth nowadays. And it reminded me to still go for the purest romance I can ever have that won’t make use much of the world- wide web and social media.

Reply 1988 is a strip of mementos any person with a euphoric youth can relate to. I strongly vouch for this drama if you have a weekend to spare. 

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Descendants of the Sun (2016)

GENRE:  Romance, Action, Drama

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Rarely do we get a story in dramaland that is so affecting when the narrative is relying on the love plot.  Most of the time it maintains a decent showing but in the waning part of the series it will lose its magic.  No romance kdrama has made it to my top favorites basing on the screenplay and the acting.  What they all failed to achieve, DOTS casually slayed in a watch-us-this-is-how-it-should-be-done manner.

The raves it got can be attributed to how fit the actors to their characters were, the realistic-sometimes-cheesy-most-of-the-time-pure-love of the main characters, the snappy lines and giggle inducing captured frames and how the story depended on the fulfilment of the romance just as the romance bloomed because of the flowing story.  The issues resolved in the story focused on braving the odds for love and the death defying conflict in the finishing kick of the series.  The charm of Captain Yoo Si Jin would have not been possible if his lead girl was not as endearing as our clever surgeon Mo Yeon.

I gave a 10/10 score for Descendants of the Sun for its ingenuity in capturing the heartfelt romance even with violence and disaster plot.  It left lessons on patriotism, life, career and friendship.  There are stories that need not to be embellished because they can stand alone when you chronicle it without confusion and with a direction. 
“Descendants of the Sun” defied all the resident kdrama cliches and presented a balanced character portrayals and heartfelt, unscripted romance.  I have never seen a drama so beautiful in each chapters and even more stunning as it flows in the culminating closure.

Not only did the drama nail the romantic notes to an almost impossible perfection, but it created a story where every person who knows how to love can relate to.  It left an inspiring message to become the best that we can ever be to the person we love, to the profession we have and to the life we live. 

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Goblin (2016)

Genre:  Romance, Supernatural

 

Arguably the best korean drama that aired for 2016, “Goblin” affirmed my kdrama fan girl spirit with its addictive pace, perceptive characters, detailed back story and the exciting race to its closure.  I was at constant awe at how the yarning of the folklore and supernatural mise en scene fit so perfectly placed in the modern setting.  The cast portraying a whole new chimeric world that I want to be a part of moved through the story seamlessly alternating a wistful and lively performance that burrowed straight to my kdrama-addict heart. *chuckles

The summary does not justify all that happened in the story as the cast were intricately connected through their past and present lives.  What made Goblin such a novelty for a love story with transcendental element is how it neatly blended the mystical notes and sensible realities to propel the narrative without losing focus and as simply told as it can be.  The drama made me yearn a romantic interlude with men like Goblin or Grim Reaper.  I was on a long moony phase struck with the impact of the characters who fervidly brought life to their sketched personas.  Goblin marked all the bullet points of a lingering story even though the metaphysical milieu was very tricky. Although set on a melancholic tone, the dynamics of the cast and the lively humor cushioned the viewers so well given its inevitable tragic scenario ending.  At times there are moments when it was languid, but it was necessary for the built up of the character connections to make the climactic conflict confrontation solid and stunning.

Breathtaking – Goblin has always been beautifully done from its cinematography, storyline and character portrayals.  The writer did a lot of impossible tweaks and conceived an intricate realm and made sure that she will succeed on the labyrinth she has set for her story.  With actors embracing their roles so well, the exquisite tale of a man searching for the woman to end his immortality curse established a memory that kdramaland followers will still love in the future.

Goblin explored the boundless creativity of Korean culture through writer Kim Eun Sook’s sweet story manipulation.  See for yourself why this drama raised a cult following.

A Dying Man’s Dangerous Punch! (Punch KDrama Series Review)

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Awed and at the edge of my seat every episode’s finishing kick, I can’t help but wondered how brilliant the writer of this story by bringing out a drama where heroes and villains don’t waste time outmanipulating each other to secure the highest possible position befitting to their greed and wickedness.  With a dying man as a lead hero in charge to intellectually brawl with his superiors in the Prosecutor’s office, the stake was always at the highest as the people involved raced to protect their families, reputations and personal ambitions.

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Punch is a badass with its intelligent writing.  It was full of surprises that will make the viewers grab their hair out of frustration.  I wondered how much hate the writer might have stored in himself to motivate him to write a chronicle that was able to maintain a level of grit all throughout the depiction of the corrupt Korean Prosecutors’ Office.

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The characters centered to high ranking officers of the Prosecution’s office who were able to propel an amazing cast ensembles that will take your wit all the way to Milky Way.  It was a nerve wrecking display of shrewdness played equally well by all the characters who were in the running to claim the most vilest of ’em all crown.

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At some point, I was already exhausted on how the writer can’t seem to just put every trick he has in his sleeve in one go, as he kept bouncing up my brain left and right that I was left with no choice but to worry about Park Jung Hwan.  Park Jung Hwan who I believed deserved to share the best kdrama character for me in 2015.  I’m sorry Healer, I liked you but I like him also and I can never go wrong with an insanely smart guy.

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I ruminated on why the drama was titled Punch.  After finishing the series, it made sense owing to every episode of combat spectacle in cleverness and wiliness .  Punch is a story of a dying prosecutor who is on a quest to clean up the corrupt high officials of the office he belongs to.  His strategic thinking defied the power his superiors used when he was on a spree to reveal their evil doings.  It was a hard and frustrating battle but he managed to expose the truth before his passing.

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What viewers would love about Park Jung Hwan is his ability to bounce back from the oppression even with nothing on his hand to fight off the huge power and walls his superiors built to hinder his outrage.  It’s your classic underdog story but very well polished in a Mafia grit kind of way.  They made phonecalls, afternoon tea and eating jajangmyun so thrilling in my eyes.  hahaha

The antagonists displayed impossible levels of wickedness that even when they got what they deserved at the closing chapter I was still fuming and wishing they suffer a bit more.

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There’s no fleeting romantic interlude in this drama but it is filled with family love and lessons about choosing the right decisions in your lives. 

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I will definitely pick “Punch” as the best 2015 KDrama story-wise for its remarkable writing and heartfelt character portrayals.  If you want a dose of serious themed dramas, this one is for you.  The thrill and the pace will surely blow your mind away and will make you crave for some more.  -jediprincess

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