2015 KDramas You Might Have Missed

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Just in case you did not see them, I want to share you the delights for the past year as 2016 is already waning.  Now I was not able to monitor last year’s drama the way I did this year, so most of it I was able to finish up to the first half of 2016.

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HEALER (Dec 2014 – Feb 2015)

GENRES:  Drama, Romance, Comedy, Action, Suspense

As a night courier serving privy and expensive tasks, Healer’s routine life changed after his encounter with a woman connected to the death of his father.  What made me like the drama a lot is how the storytelling was focused and neatly tied up without room to uncalled for sub plots.  It moved engrossingly while uncovering the link of the main characters in the past and their children in the present time.

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.  It made use of the parallel plot about upright journalists in presenting the same events of the characters in the past and the present.

There were small problems that were laid along the way to boost the main conflict of how the protagonists will bring justice to their fathers’ death by ruining the villains through innovative news broadcast.  In this crime-romantic-drama-thriller premise, 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.  That is the case for Healer.  I would also like to commend how I enjoyed Healer’s theme music on its placement in the drama and how the villains even with their old personas masterfully made the lives of the heroes hard by utilizing their vile ways.  

Healer is one of the best 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.

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Punch (Nov 2014 – Dec 2015) 

GENRES:  Drama, Legal

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 out-manipulating 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.

I thought why the drama was titled Punch, and after finishing, it really lived to that name because every episode was a combat spectacle in cleverness and wiliness .  Punch is a story of a dying prosecutor in his 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.

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 on the inside.  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.    If you want a dose of serious themed dramas, this one is for you.  The thrill and the pace will surely shoot up your mind and will make you crave for some more.

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Kill Me, Heal Me (Jan 2015 – Mar 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy

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

Overall I like the ambitious writing of this drama.  It was meticulous in inserting the conflict of the story, although it came to a point when it became too detailed dragging the denouement which they could have used in a few romantic notes in the penultimate episodes of the story.

The sending off of Do Hyun’s characters warmed my heart especially that of Perry Park and Se Gi scenes.  I don’t know the extent of this psychiatric condition, but I liked that it was explained well how each characters emerged.  It was like Voldemort’s horcruxes in a positive way.  *chuckles  Typically kdramas with chaebol power struggle plot involved unreasonable conspiracies and surprises so I think since the multiple personality is the carrying story conflict, it was good that it didn’t dwell on the money-filled but problematic chaebol world.

Beautiful in its strongest points and faint weaknesses, this is a perfect drama that will leave you happy and intrigued.

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A Girl Who Sees Smells/Sensory Couple (April 2015 – May 2015)

GENRE:  Drama, Romance, Suspense, Supernatural

Welcome to the psychopath chase where gripping episode endings build up to a long stretch of sweet annoyance and anticipation to a quaintly written story where the characters boarded on a race to outwit each other and the cost of each wrong judgment equates to starting points of a never-ending labyrinth.

Escaping from the man who murdered her parents, Choi Eun Seol woke up losing her memory and was given another identity by the detective handling a famous serial killer case.  Choi Eun Seol became Oh Cho Rim and along with her new life is her ability to know the smell of people through her eyes.

It was that brilliantly executed plot of the protagonists’ taking advantage of the killer’s inability to remember faces and the latter’s resilience in orchestrating evil ploys that drew my appreciation all throughout.   There were no unnecessary hassles and side stories written to confuse or to lengthen the narration.  The plot was very clear on its premise and has always headed to the direction of uncovering clues without making the protagonists appear dumb.  It sailed to a direction of making the viewers go along with the process of pinning the vile psychopath to admit to his crime against the usual dragging guess-the-killer story. 

The mushy sweetness here and there, the steady writing, the oneness of the cast and the deviation from the usual kdrama plot stereotypes had me resurrected from my gym induced hiatus to break my kdrama/movie review dry spell.  It is a buoyant romcom drama served with a balanced mixture of thrill, comic kicks and romance that I would highly recommend for when you plan a kdrama getaway.

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Producers (May 2015 – June 2015)

GENRE:  Drama, Comedy, Friendship, Romance

The mixture of the inside production world of variety shows and the characters’ stories were nicely blended but it was the diversity and chemistry of the characters pierced my kdramaaddict heart.

For people expecting Kim Soo Hyun being captured in romantic moments, you won’t expect it in this drama so be prepared.  Nevertheless I think for legit kdrama followers you will get what you bargain for in this drama.  It’s how we root for Alice in Wonderland and love seeking Disney princesses all at the same time.  “Producers” came up in a very interesting format incorporating the variety show world in a drama attack.  To achieve that you have to even out the laughter you get from the variety show and the valuable content you should give to the audience.

And I immensely enjoyed the lessons focused in every episode which were derived from the variety program production world.  It gave meaningful life lessons and pointed out the challenges and limitations of human nature.  When joined together the four main leads were a delightful watch, even in their personal struggles.

Seung Chan is a reminder of any person who was trying to find his niche in the corporate scene regardless if the motivation is absurd, like in his case to follow his first love.  He is a reminder of the extent on how much we can persevere and how trying a shot on everything is better than being coward to take a chance on it.  Ye Jin is a reminder of how even a person with the coldest exterior has a warm spot hidden in her.  Of a person who would be patiently waiting for the love she yearned for than waste her time to nonsense.  Joon Mo is a reflection of those times when we built our character through standing firm with our principles and defying the norms for change to happen.  Cindy represented each one of us in our highest peak, when we hit a slump, and when we bounce back from it.

As I religiously watch 2D1N, I easily grasped the intentions and love the executions all throughout.  True, I might have wished for more love screentime but it superbly fed me stories that I have been on at some point of my life.  The engrossing 12 episodes will leave you lessons that basic self-help books have already vaguely discussed.  A breather from rom-com and melodramas, Producers will strip any work related stress you are having if you give it a chance.

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Beloved Eun Dong (May 2015 – July 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Melodrama

I haven’t completed my full review on this drama yet, but this is one of my favorite romance stories for 2015.  I love how the narrative approached me like I was sent back to when I was in High School reading those first love stories that made my heart giddy-ish and warm.  

“Beloved Eun Dong” chronicled the love tale between a top actor who found the only girl he loved in his life when she took a job as a ghost writer for the book he wanted to publish in search of his one great love.  He learned that Eun Dong lost her memory and was already married with a child to a former baseball player who met an accident and was saddled in a wheelchair.   While writing Hyun Soo’s story, flashes of familiarity and memories hit Eun Dong and eventually triggered her memory back.  But claiming the love that was deprived of them by her adopted father and husband was no easy task as they faced the controversy of Eun Dong being married legally.  To make the matter worse, Eun Dong revealed that her son is Hyun Soo’s, but his son is already attached to the father he was with while growing up.

Divided in 3 parts, Eun Dong and Hyun Soo’s story moved steady from that sweet young love to the complicated re-owning of the divested romance in a way where I was so affected by the enduring commitment of Hyun Soo to love only one woman in his life.  I have never seen someone like him in kdramaland.  I mean most of the boys surely did love their girls the best way they can, but his story with her left my heart on a painful twinge.  Having a villain that was wheelchair bound and acted selfish because of love has had me on a dilemma if I will hate or understand his pain.

This drama will remind you of your greatest love and will prove to you how love is meant to be when you work for it to happen.

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Mask (May 2015 – July 2015)

GENRES:  Melodrama, Romance, Revenge

For once I got to see a melodrama with a rich family cast not going all war with excessive evil plots to claim the rein of a company, but doing it within the members as what I perceived the rich and famous should have done in reality.  “Mask” having dysfunctional characters will entice you by how much it deconstructed the main leads’ motivations, frailties and hair-pulling moments on what they are willing to give because of greed, vengeance and sacrificial love.
Swerving from the musty weep fest trademark of melodrama, “Mask” raised its fight club banner through lies, devious plots, and ruthless counter attacks for reasons of being blindly in love and the thirst to achieve a payback.

We have a solid cast who rose up to the occasion and gave meaningful portrayals to the very best of the wicked side and better versions of their characters.  What drew me most about “Mask” is the impeccable showing of the four main leads linked by painful love, betrayal and blood ties.  The supporting leads’ love story though not hitting a poignant and meaningful commitment in the end was messy and created a lingering impact of that definitive question on how much can someone go in the name of love.  I like how Ji Sook transitioned her image from a total push-over to a woman who knows her worth.  Her character as a focal point of the story pushed the problem in a coherent challenge where the surrounding people balanced out the struggle between the good and the evil.

I enjoyed the theatrics and the melodrama clichés because “Mask” in its entirety was not sporadically sketched and was focused to the penultimate closure.  I like it when dramas are overbearing because there’s an established premise to support it, and that was the case for “Mask”.  I got affected on the heavy scenes, but they did not overwhelm me with exhausting episode weep runs.

If you want a serious k-drama watch, then this will fill your craving.  The romance, the intrigue, the annoyance, the power plays were well-conceived and executed leaving a sense of fulfilment if you will sit on it for a binge.  I even prepared myself with some tissue rolls for the tear party because it was Su Ae and Joo Ji Hoon, but I was put at the edge of my seat because I was cheering earnestly for Ji Sook and how she found her niche and defied her old self to emancipate herself in the villain’s grip and be with the man she loved without secrets and lies.

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Oh My Ghost (July 2015 – August 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy, Supernatural

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

I like the richness of the father-daughter filial love in the story as it literally transcended the after life.  I like how cheeky and sweet Sun Woo was at the same time, his reactions were adorable.  I like how Park Bo Young was able to differentiate Na Bong Sun and Shin Soon Ae’s characters to fit in with the way the actual Soon Ae was playing in the story.  I like how the rom-com elements fused well with the metaphysical plot of the story by  making the love leads face their issues straight on and seeing the reasons right away.  Every main character in this drama has his own story that the love line was not the main thing that got me hooked with it.  It was how each character’s story along with the conflicts that entwined them brought the love story closer and concluded the conflicts neatly.

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

If you are needing a love elixir to boost your already blooming relationship of if you just want a perfect rom-com drama getaway, this one is for you.

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Yong Pal (Aug 2015 – Oct 2015)

GENRES:  Drama, Romance, Suspense, Medical

Quick-paced and great on cliff-hangers, Yong Pal was almost perfect but it faintly lost balance on its finishing kick.

Yong Pal enticed me with its exciting premise of a Prince charming doctor who saved an heiress in distress medically forced to be on coma by her half-brother who wanted the helm of the big company her father left for her.

Conspiracies and power struggles are fundamental elements necessary to build up a strong melodrama. The heroine has had her fair share of defiance and strength which made her an interesting character. She had a superb interaction with the lead man though I would have wanted some more sweet moments for them after all the predicaments they had. The hero was oh so cool on the onset of the story but his sparkle diminished after the second half when the story’s focus shifted on Yeo Jin. True, he was instrumental all throughout but there were moments when the heroine overshadowed him which I found weird because the drama was titled after him so I was expecting that Yeo Jin’s story is secondary only to his.

I think the conclusion was a useless do-over of the main conflict. It should have ended when she ascended to her position and had all the villains get their sad endings. But the over extension with the same scenario of her being destroyed and by something related to medicine again was a useless move. She already had her redemption so it would have been nice to see her and Tae Hyun just enjoying an uncomplicated life which they both yearned to have.

As a whole I still like the story because it maneuvered with rising excitement as the drama unfolds. It also stuck in the power struggle conflict and the protagonists and villains moved well to the direction of annoying and outwitting each other. The characters were less frills and full of grit. The narrative was simple and yet rich with emotions. Feisty and flowing, all that was missing was a fitting ending.

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She Was Pretty (Sept 2015 – Nov 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy

I would consider two themes evident for 2015 in kdramaland… friendship-turned-romance and redeeming-a-woman’s-old-glow.   These two were present in the recently concluded love tale of childhood friends turned sweethearts who lost contact for a long while and met again at different expectations and fears more than 20 years after.

“She Was Pretty” was your typical rom-com drama tailored to make you feel giddy and warm. It will excite you while the story unfolds but it’s not something that you will keep dearly in your heart like the rom-com classics.  The characters were all amusing in their own right, but I gave Choi Si Won, the biggest applause among the cast for his perfect rendering of the quirky second male lead character. While Park Seo Joon is beautiful and Hwang Jung Eum is at her usual best although with slight hyperactivity, they were able to present a love couple you will root for.

The conflict’s lightness was an affirmative note in the story as it worked on the characters’ connection and sticking on their rational thinking come what may. I felt a bit of annoyance toward Ha Ri, but she beautifully redeemed herself by confronting Hye Jin to stop shielding her from the pain and accept the happiness that she deserved.  Neatly narrated, the always encouraging vibe of the heroine carried on sincere lessons about how much pain and understanding you can give to salvage a friendship that is more than a family and how much we have to give it to ourselves the limitless opportunities and love that fate won’t give us right away. Hye Jin just like our usual rom-com lead girls pursued love and dreams the best way she can by not sacrificing the happiness that she can create on her own. With her perfect hero who wanted to support her all the way with her personal bucket list, I witnessed a romance that is soon fading in our generation that is being supportive to our lover’s personal goals while maintaining a relationship dependent to a genuine love and unwavering commitment.

Next to chocolates, honeyed and heart-warming kdrama romcoms can help you survive melancholia and routine weekends. Uncomplicated with its romantic approach, Hye Jin and Sung Joon’s love story will surely hit your love veins.

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Bubblegum (Oct 2015 – Dec 2015)

GENRE:  Drama, Romance, Comedy, Family

I think out of all friendship-turned-romance dramas this year, Ri Hwan and Haeng Ah’s story in Bubblegum is perfect for 30-ish working people who struggled and are struggling to keep up on the sad truth that dealing with a broken heart and learning to accept a new love have different approaches as you age along.   It was such an enamoring narrative that drew strength from the free spirited and natural on screen connection of the lead couple.

It is sadly evident that the conflicts raised in the story were not tied up neatly. It was like probably hoping that Lee Dong Wook princey face can fade away the misses of the drama. It came very strong with how the characters communicated intrepidly and genuinely but fell short because of the wayward movement of the story.  It was a case where the beautiful characters were not justified by a well written fiction.

Although it got derailed on the closing episodes and the mom-doesn’t-want-us-to-be-together was misplaced and later on forgotten, I have enjoyed the heartfelt confrontations, the peaceful conversations and the life and love realizations. It was a consoling chronicle until the mom-got-Alzheimer’s plot, and less that annoying cliché, it would have been a perfect melodrama as a whole.  It did end up warm and happy for the love birds but the writing was not polished. It was ardent but somehow all over the place. If not for the unfeigned portrayals of the lead couple, I would have given up on it. But because it had me hooked on fast to cheer for the literal written on the stars love for Haeng Ah and Ri Hwan and the blossoming of the romance from the friendship tested through time, I sent them off with a smile on my face. Bubblegum is not a solid offering but it will keep you calm and comforted.

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Because it’s the first time (OCt 2015 – Nov 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy, Youth, Drama

Everything about this drama screams about the kind of friendship, worries and love confusions we had in our early 20’s.  The story was narrated unadorned but the characters were limned delightfully.

Tae Oh, Song Yi, Ji Ahn, Ga In and Hoon are five childhood friends who have relied to each another while battling the challenges of braving the world where they are expected  to face failures  and not warranted to give up on it.   The age when they have the freedom not to rationalize loving someone, but are restricted to chase their personal dreams because they either doubt themselves or they are forced to go against their will by their families. 

These hinged friends experienced life cruelties from their own families and unfortunate events, but they have managed  to shelter one another and gave strength to overcome their battles.  The story moved in presenting their usual bickerings and fun times and hit the conflict of Tae Oh finally waking up to the truth that he loved his girl best friend even when he finally got his dream girl.  No spices.  No heaviness.  Just culminating to the main lead’s decision to let go of his one sided first love. 

Yes I wish it would have been longer but given the simplicity of the  plot, it wouldn’t give a justified stretch.  It was a nice watch while you are on it, but won’t leave a lingering impact after. But if you want a short, feel-good 20’s drama that you can finish in one sitting on a weekend or when u want to feel distracted, “Because It’s The First Time” would serve the purpose of entertaining you.  Sweet and upbeat… I’m sure this friendship story will make you remember those blithe days of being wild, young and free.

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Oh My Venus (Nov 2015 – Jan 2015)

GENRE:  Romance, Comedy

Forget the grueling gym workout, home yoga sessions and sadness inducing diet plans… Just allot 2 hours in 2 days watching Oh My Venus and you will miraculously lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks. It’s true. No hidden agendas, no diet pills, and no aggravating body pains. Sign up for a 14-day trial period at Coach John Kim’s Venus boot camp and see for yourself what the rest of the women who tried the program have been talking about. *chuckles  Seriously now, if they want a solution to the alarming woes of women struggling to keep up with their weight, they should hire So Ji Sub oppa to be their personal trainer and the world will be a better place. *giggles

Oh My Venus went to the typical Korean drama rom-com milieu of a rich heir who fell in love with a normal girl but with a fitness program twist. Kang Joo Eun was a feisty Korean lawyer with a steady long-time boyfriend. She was living a calm life and the only concern she has was her weight loss struggle.  She used to be the high school boys’ dream in her hometown Daegu, but life’s complications took over and she failed maintaining her goddess self. She eventually lost her boyfriend to an old chubby law school friend who managed to discard her old fat self.

But seriously, I already outgrew the over-used rich guy-normal girl love story setting, but for the lightness and the girly-drooling moments, I would forgive the shallow conflict of this drama. Oh well and because anything is forgivable with So Ji Sub oppa in it.  But it would have been nice if they push it to Joo Eun’s initial dream to recover her old Venus self. Putting that Young Ho’s family’s company problem conflict was a bit awkward for the plot. It was not fitting.  Since they presented Young Ho’s broken self, I think they should have followed that lead.  There’s a lot of emotional struggles for couples in their 30’s because most tend to not unpack their baggages so they could have circled in their plot.  They could have lengthened Joo Eun’s rally to win Young Ho’s rich family to make the drama even more sassier and feel good.  But anyway, I got what I bargained for, if not for Joo Eun and Young Ho’s chemistry I would have really pouted.

I want to commend on the show’s drive to encourage women with weight worries to lighten up and push themselves to be even more disciplined in following their fitness programs as it would be a propelling force to reclaim their confidence and to live a robust life.  If you can get a supportive partner/boyfriend with that then you are definitely on the right track.  With ample cutesy love scenes and charming on screen adorable couple, this rom-com offering will wear out a week’s work stress. If you want an uncomplicated blithe and feel good love drama, this will definitely satisfy your craving. Add So Ji Sub on the side, and boy it’s definitely a winner all throughout.

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Reply 1988 (Nov 2015 – Jan 2015)

GENRES:  Romance, Comedy, Family, Friendship

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.

One of the many things I loved in this show was the genuine on-screen bond of the cast giving life in the best possible imagination of the sketched characters in the story. There was no passerby among the cast. All have contributed to an almost perfect depiction of how uncomplicated life then. With neighbors living up to become a functioning support group with their fellow parents whose dreams were mainly directed to the well-being of their children and of children who were pressured to chase their dreams so as to make their parents proud. That is definitely not the case today with the internet controlling human interaction. People will choose to just browse on the superficial social media status of their family and friends than to take time to catch up with them in person.  Another wonderful feature evident to all Reply-dramas would be the building up of the romance which has been fixed in presenting a love triangle and would always break the viewers’ hearts as they want both guys to get the same girl they were chasing. I was Team Taek-i all throughout. Who wouldn’t fall for Taek-i’s puppy face? I just really go for cute nerds who are clueless in life but advances strong when the situation required them to go for their one great love and Taek-i rose to the occasion by waiting for the right time and seizing the moment without looking back. Jung–hwan had his fair share of sweet moments capping up with that heartbreaking love proposal practice which Duk-seon never realized to be what really was in Jung Hwan’s heart.

But the one great love lesson learned from JungHwan-Dukseon-Taek love triangle is to not blame timing or fate for your one great love to happen. Taek-i braved the odds and defied a 20 year friendship and sealed every love he had for Dukseon in a heart-stopping kiss because he wanted to know right at that moment if there is just not a chance but if love was really there for both of them. It’s not just knowing that love is there, it is being in absolute certainty that both of you feel the same way.  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.  Reply 1988 was a great spectacle to seal K-drama parade of 2015 and I can only hope that the writer won’t get tired of delving on nostalgic premise like this.

Reply 1988 is on my top 3 dramas for 2015 because of its brilliant use of sweet melancholia and sending the followers 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.  The ever present humor, the love stories and the amazing neighborhood are surely a quick relief for life stress. 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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To:  Healer@moebius.com  I’m still waiting for you

 

Out of all my fictional boyfriends that change every now and then depending on my mood, Healer is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.  *wink  I could choose from princes, time travelers, rich guys, military and police officers, doctors and the rest of white collar jobs available to men, but the night courier who takes on highly confidential work commissioned secretly and dangerously by powerful men in the society is who I want to wake up with if it is permissible.  *wink

Healer is one of the best 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.

BACKSTORY

In 1992, Moon Shik was friends with four other people – Kil Ahn, Myung Hee, Jun Seok and Young Jae.  They hang out at a junk yard where his 3 friends Healer’s father and Young Shin’s biological parents ran a pirate investigative radio program tackling society issues that were being hidden to the public. 

Moon Ho who has long harbored love to Myung Hee, took on an offer by the Elder, a powerful man that secretly calls the shot on the political and economic control of the country.  Later on he married Kyung Hee who was binded in a wheelchair because of an accident.

SYNOPSIS

Meet Joong Ho aka Healer – the best night courier in town.  He lives alone without social interaction aside from his partner hacker and a young lady in the team in a wide space dreaming of buying an island for his retirement.  He is skilled in avoiding CCTV cameras and can crawl, leap and climb from one building to another.  He works with an ajumma hacker in mission impossible courier service of stealing and delivering items ordered to them by clients who are usually from the rich and famous.  

 

We opened the story with Healer being asked to receive a package by JaeIl News, a big news company ran by Kim Moon Shik.  He faced another private team hired  by Kim Moon Ho, a famous newscaster also Kim Moon Shik’s brother, but successfully completed his mission beating the group of thugs assembled by the private team.  After his defeat, Kim Moon Ho placed a mission for Healer to find his long lost niece who disappeared 20 years ago and was believed to be dead.  Off Healer to chase Chae Young Shin, a writer from an online entertainment website specializing in tabloid news.  She hero worships Kim Moon Ho and dreams of becoming an influential Broadcaster someday.  Healer managed to get Young Shin’s finger nail for DNA and Moon Ho confirmed his sister-in-law’s  daughter is alive.

 

Healer was again commissioned by Kim Moon Ho to research about Chae Young Shin so he stalked her all night and day.  Young Shin witnessed a  woman, Joo Yun Hee being assaulted by a man, Hwang Jae Guk, who turned out to be an entertainment company president while she was stalking on a top actor.  When she realized the woman will be taking her life, she rushed to save her and brought her to their house where her father agreed to be his lawyer to plead her sexual assault claim.  

But Hwang Jae Guk is under the protection of an influential, top secret group where Kim Moon Shik is also affiliated.  Moon Ho who has long confirmed the puzzle pieces he was working on will have to stop his older brother succumbed to even more wickedness.  

When Jae Il company double-crossed him by pinning him as the murderer of the man involved in the work he did for them, he found the scenario on how his recent jobs are strangely hitting something inside him. While on the job watching over Young Shin, he saw Moon Ho late at night staring at Young Shin and figured the connection of the client who asked for the paternity test and his connection as the brother of Jae Il company’s president.  He followed him and broke into Moon Ho’s house and saw the group picture of his father’s friends which he also had. 


 Wanting to unveil his recent discovery, Healer assumed a new identity the next day as Park Bong Soo and went to work in Someday News and became Young Shin’s junior for him to get information in processing the mystery of his father’s death and his friends of long ago. Meanwhile Double S courier service teamed up with Moon Ho to do tasks that will cover their organization’s evil works. 

Young Shin asked her boss to publish her article related to Yun Hee’s case but the boss refused to challenge the repercussions of the article if it gets bigger since it involved a major political party player and a famous entertainment company president.  But after Young Shin got drunk from their team dine out, she published an article without his superior’s permission and caused a ruckus the next day as the parties involved in the story made a move to silence the scandal.  

Moon Ho offered to take over the story but Young Shin declined.  Soon Moon Ho’s men cornered Young Shin and Bong Soo.  Young Shin asked Bong Soo to run and call the police but he suit up to his Healer self and came back to rescue Young Shin.

Healer trapped the leader of Double S affirming the involvement of Kim Moon Ho in almost kidnapping Young Shin, but over Yoon Hee’s case, Moon Ho’s men was able to reverse the situation by naming Yoon Hee as a gold-digger and accusing her of slander so they had to halt on their initial plan.  While Healer is getting to the point of finding out how his father died, worried ajumma hacker and his master who has returned from his hiatus asked him to take a vacation but stubborn Healer wants to get to the bottom of the questions in his head bothering him.  

He visited Hwang Jae Geuk and secured the saved videos of the women he traded to his clients while Young Shin is being mentored by Moon Ho to her new role.  Healer asked Young Shin to go to the rooftop to retrieve the video he got from Jae Guk’s safe.  She tried talking to him about the DNA test and the last time he saved her, but Healer held back on the growing emotions he is feeling for her.

Kim Moon Shik and Congressman Kim meet with “The Elder”, the head of their untouchable triangle.  The Elder castigated Congressman Kim on his reckless scandal as Kim Moon Ho bought Someday News to build a more compelling online news broadcast site.

Healer paid a visit to Kim Moon Ho to clear his name or he will expose their secret organization, but on his way out Myung Hee was on the door and called him Jun Seok after Healer’s resemblance to his late father. Just as Healer taunted his superior’s to reveal the relationship of the woman who called him his father’s name, his master interfered and confirmed Myung Hee’s identity as the woman in the group picture.  Young Shin almost get to the verge of his connection to Moon Ho, but  the latter was able to dodge the tough spot he was on.

Sang Soo from double S met with Moon Shik and disclosed Young Shin’s details and we get a flashback on how Myung Hee asked Moon Ho to find Ji Ahn who was left near the garbage bin when their whole family fled after learning they will be chased by the people behind the risky scoop they got.  Moon Shik found Ji Ahn, but lost her when he bought a drink for her in a nearby convenience store.

The Elder learned from Moon Ho’s psycho secretary Oh about the latter’s wavering heart out of the guilt he has been carrying from the death of his friends.  He ordered Secretary Oh to give a warning to Moon Ho by trapping Young Shin in a broken elevator, but ajumma hacker alerted Healer and saved her from that near death experience.  Trembling from the experience, she worriedly thanked him for saving her life again and just as he walked away from her, it dawned on him how the woman he has been protecting has understood and accepted him without asking anything in return.  He went back and scoop a sweet kiss under the falling snow.

After Young Shin’s elevator encounter, Moon Ho rushed to warn his brother not to touch Young Shin or he will lose Myung Hee once she learned the truth that her daughter is alive, but the latter doesn’t know about what the Elder commanded his psycho assistant and that Ji Ahn was still alive.  Young Shin called Bong Soo from a telephone booth and cryingly confided how she is waiting for someone to meet her but worried that he will not come at all.

Young Shin confided to Bong Soo how her heart fluttered with Healer which made our hero smiled as his protective instinct has long been hooked by Young Shin without him realizing it.  Ajumma hacker and Master deduced how Healer/Jung Ho has finally fallen in love with a woman but it gets complicated because she is the daughter of Kil Ahn who was supposed to be the friend his father killed.

It was Congressman Kim’s press conference and Moon Ho’s company can’t get through it so he sent Young Shin and Bong Soo for a make-over and pretended to be attending a wedding on the same hotel of the conference.  Young Shin successfully threw in questions that made Congressman Kim felt off guard and was broadcast live on the internet website.  Back on the villains’ den, they were left no choice but to drop Congressman Kim as a Seoul mayoral candidate.

The Master met Jung Hoo to clear the things he wanted from his father’s picture only to worsen it by learning that his father committed suicide because he killed someone.  The Master challenged Jung Hoo to find out the real truth behind his father’s death by finding the person who took the group picture as he strongly believed his father won’t kill anyone.

Healer went to Moon Ho’s place, revealed his identity and questioned him about the missing pieces of the puzzle he was trying to solve just as Moon Ho found Young Shin’s cellphone on Bong Soo’s jacket.  Healer offered Moon Ho his night courier service in exchange of the story from 1992 but he made an agreement for him to reveal himself first after using Young Shin’s cellphone as a bait.  Moon Ho made Jung Hoo remembered a memory from his childhood where he played with a young girl.  Healer confirmed his identity as Joon Seok son and recalled the uncle who used to baby sit for him.  Moon Ho told him about who his father supposedly killed which made Jung Hoo frustrated because he was Young Shin’s daughter.  He challenged Jung Hoo to clear the suspicion on his father’s murder accusation.

Healer conversed with ajumma hacker on how he will continue working on Someday News and blabbed about his fondness over Young Shin and his plans to clear his father’s name so that he can like her freely.

Hwang Jae Guk committed suicide after Someday News’ exclusive online broadcast.  Moon Ho and Jung Hoo went to the old dumpsite to start unveiling on the what-happened-in-1992 project.  

Ajumma hacker told Jung Hoo about Young Shin’s email and intention to go on a midnight movie date with him without him showing himself but just his presence.  Jung Hoo and ajumma prepared a candle lit pathway and stuffed toy for their first movie date.  They sat silently watching the movie.  When the movie ended, Jung Hoo reached for Young Shin’s hand and held it tightly.  

Healer went to retrieve Joon Seok’s confession file but found it empty so he used his teue identity to get the information relating to his father’s death.  Moon Shik was alarmed of Jung Hoo’s visit for his dead father’s file and went to meet him directly.  Myung Hee who has started being suspicious of Moon Shik feigned ignorance when she saw their guest.  Jung Hoo learned about Myung Hee’s lost daughter Ji Ahn and confirmed with Moon Ho that Ji Ahn is present day Young Shin. Moon Ho explained that she had to hide Young Shin because he had to protect her. Jung Hoo denied him of involving himself to them anymore even with Moon Ho telling him how powerful their enemies were.

Jung Hoo conversed with ajumma on how she really cared for him thats why she tried to make his connection with Young Shin break. She knew about their fathers’ backstory so she didn’t want him to get hurt but Jung Hoo bluntly revealed that he can’t run away and just want to protect Young Shin because he liked her a lot.

Moon Ho and his Someday team went full throttle in attacking Kim Moon Shik with their online broadcast.  Jung Hoo asked Moon Ho to not make Young Shin in the dark and revealed everything but the latter wanted Young Shin to learn everything on her own.

Meanwhile Moon Shik threw a bait to catch Healer by using his mother after ajumma tracker was alarmed that the psycho assistant met with his mother.  Healer was disarmed by a poison gunshot but was rescued by his Master.  Ajumma hacker called Young Shin to find Bong Soo and took him to the hospital. While tending to sleeping Bong Soo, he reached for her hand and she suddenly realized the feel of Healer’s hand and realized Bong Soo and Healer were the same.

Master Young Jae was transferred from Moon Shik’s Men to the police station.  Young Shin pretended that she doesn’t know Healer’s identity yet.  The Master was interrogated by cyber police Yoon Dong Won but the poison given by Secretary Oh kicked in and killed the Master after admitting in to all Jung Hoo’s recent works.

 

Healer went off the radar after his master’s demise so ajumma  hacker was left no choice but to bring life to him by sending Young Shin.

Jung Hoo tried pushing her away but he surrendered the idea and let the pain in his heart washed away by Young Shin’s warmth.

Moon Shik finally confirmed Jung Hoo and Healer’s identity and was apprehended on how everything will turn out if Myung Hee the only thing he wanted in life will know everything soon.  Healer and Young Shin proceeded to obtaining information to support the news they are working on about Hwang Jae Guk’s suicide.  Moon Ho confirmed that his brother paid a man on Detective Dong Won’s team.  He made an agreement with Dong Won to get a scoop on the police officer who poisoned Healer’s master.  The police officer called Moon Shik’s assistant as he planned his escape route but Healer held him binded until Detective Dong Won’s team came.

Someday News aired the story of Moon Shik’s connection to Ki Young Jae’s death to ruin his Seoul Mayoral candidacy campaign.  Myung Hee almost reaching his breaking point wondering about how much lies her husband has been hiding refused to talk to Moon Shik. The Moon brothers had a phone spat and raised war to one another.  

The next day Myung Hee called Young Shin agreeing to an interview but Moon Shik quickly get to where the game is heading and asked her to spare some time for him.  Moon Shik asked Secretary Ahn to divulge the made-up lies of Healer killing people to frighten Young Shin adding the murder of Jun Hoo’s father to his friend.  Moon Ho rushed to Jae Il news and finally told Young Shin who her real mother was.  

Jung Hoo worked with ajumma hacker in tracing the interview files needed to absolve his father’s supposed crime not realizing that Moon Shik and his team already placed a bait. 

Young Shin called Jung Hoo about the revelation she had that day so he had to rush back to be at her side.  While thinking over the events of her day, Young Shin felt frustrated about being kept in the dark.  When she mustered to get back at her feet, she picked up the case files and realized Jung Hoo’s father and her father’s connection.  Jung Hoo arrived at Young Shin’s room and she trembled at his sight signaling she figured out everything.  He reached for her but she can’t help but act cold and stepped back so Jung Hoo had to walk away promising he will find the truth about their fathers.  Young Shin ran to catch up on Jung Hoo, embraced him and made him promise to come back even without not being successful with securing evidence.

Jung Hoo met with the police who took his father’s statement.  He learned how his father’s statement was fabricated and that how he has a tape recording of the interview.  Ajumma hacker thru Myung Hee’s bug information alerted Jung Hoo that Moon Shik’s men tailed them through the police.  Jung Hoo fought with Moon Shik’s men but the police got hit by baseball bat causing his death and making Jung Hoo appeared to be the culprit.  Before the police faded, he managed to tell Jung Hoo three numbers.

Secretary Oh was released from the jail and went back to Moon Shik’s house on the same day Young Shin visited Myung Hee.  Jung Hoo rushed to the location while Secretary Oh reported to the Elder.  The Elder ordered Secretary Oh not to reveal it to Moon Shik having known that he will fall apart is Myung Hee left his side.  Jung Hoo scared Secretary Oh and while fumbling on things at Moon Shik’s study room, he saw his Master’s charnel house documents and realized that the numbers given to him by the dead police was for a charnel house – his father’s charnel house.  Myung Hee narrated the story of what happened in 1992 to Young Shin and suffered an attack in the process.  Young Shin finally realized why she wasn’t able to talk when she was young as it was the last thing her mother told her to do.

Moon Shik met with the Elder to proceed with their future plan.   Someday News prepared to go on a live internet broadcast uncloaking the events of 1992 as Jung Hoo and Young Shin headed to the field site to support the report.  They went to So Jung Seok’s charnel house and went to retrieve the confession tape but acted as a decoy to thwart the men chasing them.  Jung Hoo’s junior already emptied the spot before they came and delivered the parcel to Someday News team.

Jung Hoo was captured and was brought to where Elder’s location is.  On cue his meeting with the Elder was captured to live online feed through his camera glasses.  The broadcast narrated how Kil Ahn and Jun Seok stumbled on a secret group that manipulated politics and laws to suit their taste.  Kil Ahn was caught by the men and killed him as Jun Seok fled with Moon Shik from the scene.  The same organization – Farmers is led by the Elder who recruited Moon Shik with the promise of making him powerful and letting him live with Myung Hee by his side.

Moon Shik retaliated by doing and impromptu interview to answer allegations about his candidacy and his relationship to the Elder. 

 

He reverted his current predicament by attacking Moon Ho’s irresponsible journalism move and made himself shine by presenting how he has fought for press freedom in the past.  Moon Ho received summons from government offices and the office was ransacked following his brother’s attack.  

Moon Ho was abducted by Moon Shik’s men so Jung Hoo left Young Shin to rescue Moon Ho.  Young Shin was caught by psycho Secretary Oh and held her captive while Moon Shik’s men coaxed Jung Hoo to reveal a tip they got from Russia and to state his involvement in the recent killing of the police witness while Young Shin is on the brink of being poisoned.  

He agreed to state the forced confession and went off radar to catch the Elder’s secretary.  Myung Hee finally left Moon Shik and went to Someday news for interview.  They disclosed a bridge accident that involved Omega Investments where the Elder is also affiliated to present their final story of the illegal venues of where the Elder’s money is coming.  Jung Hoo secured the finger prints of the dead police’ culprit and ajumma hacker handed it to Detective Dong Won.  

Unfortunately, ajumma hacker took the hidden bait of Secretary Ahn so she had to leave her technology crib just as Jung Hoo penetrated their headquarters.  Jung Hoo rushed to help ajumma and they stayed at Young Shin’s place in the mean time.

On the final win or lose match to end the Elder and his men, Someday news had to broadcast an interview with a biochemistry researcher who was a witness on a bacteria research to contaminate the public drinking water so that privatization will take place.  The research harmed and killed village people where the tests took place.  The company behind the research was also led by the Elder.  The villains pulled another shot by publicizing Jung Hoo’s confession so he was left no choice but to join Elder’s camp.  

Young Shin was able to lead the researcher to the rest room for an interview but Healer took on his role with the villains and dragged the researcher out.  They ran and chased each other and finally Detective Dong Won fired a shot to Healer.

It turned out that the heroes devised a plan to get rid of Jung  Hoo and Healer’s identity while catching the last story to put the main antagonist to jail.  

STORY AND SCREENPLAY

As a night courier serving privy and expensive tasks, Healer’s routine life changed after his encounter with a woman connected to the death of his father.  What made me like the drama a lot is how the story telling was focused and neatly tied up without room to uncalled for sub plots.  It moved engrossingly while uncovering the link of the main characters in the past and their children in the present time.

The writing made the audience cheer for the characters and even feel the heart fluttering romance that built up for the lead couple while being excited on how the main conflict will be resolved.  I think most girls will agree that Healer’s story just held us breathless and those moments when he kissed Young Shin we felt it leaving the TV screen like we were all kissed by him too.  *chuckles  His enigmatic charm will make any girl want to be in his arms for protection.   

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.  It made use of the parallel plot about upright journalists in presenting the same events of the characters in the past and the present.

Song Ji Na is a seasoned TV writer but it amused me how she pulled a modern story that will make superhero movie romance plots look stupid compared to Healer and Young Shin’s love line.  Even with Faith, she has shown a commanding conception of how each role players would give justice to the shifting of the narration.  She was patient in explaining the smallest details without losing the thrill of the conflict.

CAST AND CONFLICT

Having Old Boy’s Yoo Ji Tae on board is already a reckoning force in the cast but the drama has such impeccable main leads and supporting characters that stayed focused and immersed in their roles hence giving such an impressive life to the story.

Healer’s role is one that will sweetly haunt women in their dreams.  Ji Chang Wook pulled his kickass character so well I can’t associate him anymore but with Healer.  

The bromancenemy between Moon Ho and Moon Shik left me annoyed on how their blood relationship inhibits themselves to go all-kill on their endless battle of their opposing views.  The Master-apprentice relationship of Healer and Young Jae although short, brought life to building our main hero’s integral presence as well as tying up the mess of what happened to the friendship circle that he once belonged to.  The ajumma-healer partnership was the most amusing connection in the drama, it was even more fun because ajumma who likes making kimbap and knitting wowed me with her acting as an invincible hacker that defies the cyber police and tricks in the country.

There were small problems that were laid along the way to boost the main conflict of how the protagonists will bring justice to their fathers’ death by ruining the villains through innovative news broadcast.  In this crime-romantic-drama-thriller premise, 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.  That is the case for Healer.  I would also like to commend how I enjoyed Healer’s theme music on its placement in the drama and how the villains even with their old personas masterfully made the lives of the heroes hard by utilizing their vile ways.  

RATINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

Healer is one of the best dramas of all time in my list.  I refused to number them because there’s not much on my list.  It’s already hard for me to fall in love with a kdrama so I always go for ingenious plot and how the cast suited up to their roles in bringing out the beauty of the story.

HOW MUCH I ENJOYED IT:  10/10

HOW I RECOMMEND IT:  10/10

GRADE: A+