KDrama Starter Pack: The Supernatural Dramas Starter Pack

Over the years, dramaland showcased recurring themes and novelty tales that swept the followers off their feet.  From the weep-fest dramas that started the hallyuwave breakthrough, to the historical drama parade that taught us Korean history, and to the fantasy driven narratives in the most recent years, every era has marked a significant change in making the kdramaland stories even better than before.

For my next blog project, I will be working on themed Korean dramas  that will be perfect for a weekend drama binge.  First on my entry would be the fantasy themed dramas that have been an active genre in the past five years.  Most of the dramas here raked ratings and established a strong fan based online.  Fusion of folklore and chimeric characters like mermaid, alien, ghost, and goblin have been so far successful in bringing out stories that are loved by fans.

Tomorrow With You (2017) – The time traveler who was trapped in his time traveling

Storyline:  A time-traveler saved a woman from her imminent death because when he traveled in his future he found out that he died together with the woman on that same day.

Goblin (2016 – 2017) – Bromance and Romance at its perky best.  Stunning cinematography and writing.

Storyline:  A goblin is in search of his bride for more than 900 years so he can be freed of the curse given to him by a deity.  He finally meets his bride but removing the curse would mean an end to his immortality, and falling in love with his bride complicated his situation even more.

Legend of the Blue Sea (2016 – 2017) – Curious mermaid and charming con-man story perfect for when you just want to be lazy and feel loved.

Storyline:  A mermaid chose to live in the land out of faith that the man she loved will love her back.  It turned out that their connection run deep as they were also lovers in their previous lives.

Signal (2016) – A thrilling crime drama that neatly utilized time element.

Storyline:  Two police officers from the past and present work on unsolved cases through a haunted walkie-talkie.

W:  Two Worlds (2016) – The worlds that sent us to beyond imagination and a one-sided love with Kang Chul.

Storyline:  A daughter of a manhwa writer entered her father’s fictional world and rescued the manhwa’s hero from dying.  They eventually fell in love but their separated worlds and the manhwa world’s villain was determined to kill the hero and his wife.

Mirror of the Witch (2016) – Sorcery, sad love but a strangely bearable story.

Storyline:  A Joseon princess was hidden by her King Father through his trusted Taoist priest, because of an inevitable  death waiting for her due to the curse that she will bring to the royal family and the country.  Years later, she learned of her true identity and chose to repel the curse placed on her to claim back the family and life that was deprived of her.

Blood (2015)

GENRE:  Vampire, Medical

Orange Marmalade (2015)

GENRE:  Vampire, Youth

Oh My Ghost (2015) – The ghost possessed girl who loved her chef-boss

Storyline: An introverted woman who can see ghosts agreed to have a wandering spirit host her body so she can seduce her chef boss.  The ghost who believed that she needed to free her mortal grudge of dying a virgin thought that sleeping with a man will resolve her issue, but she uncovered the truth about her death.

The Scholar who walks at Night (2015)

GENRE:  Vampire, Romance, Period

The Records of Nightwatchman (2014) – Joseon era Ghostbusters

Storyline:  A royal prince leads a team of ghost seeing fighters who worked on vanquishing the wandering ghosts that was let loose by the villain who killed his family

You Who Came From the Star (2013-2014) – The alien who loved the sassy top actress

Storyline:  An alien landed on earth and was saved by a mortal girl.  The alien waited to meet the girl again in her reincarnated self and succeeded after a few decades of blending in the human world.  The girl’s reincarnated self became a modern day top actress whom he was not in a smooth relationship at first.  Circumstances brought them together until he realized that she was the girl he has been looking for just as hos borrowed time on earth is slowly fading.

 

The Master’s Sun  (2013) –  The eccentric department store CEO who inspired his lady love to dream

Storyline:  A ghost-seeing woman discovered a man that can protect her from the spirits pestering her to help resolve their earthly grudges.

Nine Times Travel (2013) – the mind boggling drama which needs storyline mapping while you are watching

Storyline:  A broadcaster uncovers the truth about his brother’s mysterious death by using nine incense sticks that can send him back in the past.

I Hear Your Voice (2013)

GENRE:  Noona Romance, Legal

Jeon Woo Chi (2012 – 2013) – your magical neighborhood hero

Storyline:  After swallowing a magical bead, Jeon Woo Chi became a mischievous master who taught lessons to the baddies in the town.

Gu Family Book (2012) – Naruto and she-kenshin himura love journey

Storyline:  The story I gave up half-way and when I picked it up again to finish it, I regret it a million times.  I love the early part of the drama, but it was such a waste of talent.

Faith (2012) – The smoking hot general who loved a time traveling modern day doctor

Storyline:  General Choi Young was tasked to find a cure for the wounded Queen or they will be waging war with the Mongols.  He entered a portal that led him to modern day Korea and abducted a doctor from a Gangnam hospital.

Rooftop Prince (2012) – The prince who traveled in the future to solve the mystery of his princess’ death

Storyline:  A Joseon prince is transported to the future with his trusted warriors to uncover the truth about his princess’ death.  They lived with a kind woman in a rooftop where he learned that events on the present time will help solve the mystery he was working on in Joseon.

Queen In Hyun’s Man (2012) – the best time traveling character in kdramaland

Storyline:  A scholar and faithful retainer of deposed Queen In Hyun was transported to the present time escaping mortal peril from the hands of his political rivals.  In present time he met an actress playing the role of Queen In Hyun in a TV drama and fell in love with her while sojourning between the past and present time.

Operation Proposal (2012) – The time traveler who travels back in time to be with the girl he loved.

Storyline:  When his friend whom he loved for a long time was set to marry, a man begged for the pain to be relieved and was given a chance to travel back in their past time to correct what he might have done to be with the girl he loved.

Moon that embraces the sun (2012)  – The King Who Loved a Shaman

Storyline:  A Joseon King was set to marry the woman he loved but she died of an unusual illness.  Years later the woman turned out to be alive but lost her memory.  She entered the palace as a shaman and the inivisible love thread that connected her and the King resurfaced even if she has no recollection of her past.

Arang and the Magistrate (2012) – The sassy ghost who loved a magistrate

Storyline:  A ghost who kept haunting the house where magistrates live in a town met a magistrate who helped her resolved her case.

Vampire Prosecutor (2011)

GENRE: Vampire Legal

49 Days (2011) – painful tears, painful love, painfully annoying ending lol

Storyline:  A woman met an accident and was on comatose state.  She was given a chance to live only if she can get three genuine tears from people who loved her.  She was assisted by the Scheduler in her task and she hosted on another woman’s body to complete her mission.

My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (2010) – The happy-go-lucky stuntman who loved a pretty nine tailed fox

Storyline:  A nine-tailed fox that was imprisoned from a painting was emancipated accidentally by a mortal and started living together with him after giving him her magical bead that saved his life.

Secret Garden (2010) – the trendsetting drama between a stunt woman and a rich man

Storyline:  A stunt woman and a rich man bodies were magically swapped after they drank a liquor, and only when it rains can they come back to their regular selves.  Their bickerings evolved to romance even when rhe heroine had reservations on him first.

Secret Investigation Record (2010)

GENRE:  Mystery, Ghost

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The time transcending pure love of a mermaid to a conman

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A lot of expectations were already thrown at this drama even before it was airing due to A-list actors and top writer/director headlining the production.  I say it did exceptional in maintaining the fantasy, romance and comedy as it progressed along the story.  His hero projection to his lead girl in a refreshing and a quirky run I thought he won’t be able to pull off.  I was so fond of Jun Ji Hyun’s inventive approach to suit up her role in a fun, lingering kind of way.

True, that it can’t be helped for it to be compared with “You From Another Star”, having the same psycho villain and supernatural love defying theme, but the base fairytale approach that seems to be familiar to anyone is most likely the key ingredient to its delightful run. 

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Lee Min Ho overturned the table and took in the reign of carrying the story by leveling up to Jun Ji Hyun’s expected brilliant portrayal by polishing his comic timing halfway through the narrative.  His hero projection to his lead girl in a refreshing and a quirky run I thought he won’t be able to pull off.  He owned Heo Joon Jae’s character so well that I can finally say he’s grown from a pretty face to a now versatile bankable actor.  On the other side, Jun Ji Hyun’s inventive approach to suit up her role in a fun, lingering kind of way made me cracked up a lot of times because of her optimistic approach to her new-found world.  Her love ride with Heo Joon Jae was an amusing and love-affirming watch as they learned to understand each other’s flaw and adjust when necessary in appeasing their fears and celebrating what makes them happy.

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The fusion of reincarnation plot and the mermaid-human romance appeared trite on its onset, but as the plot thickened, it felt like the mythical element was stronger as the driving point than the real-life premise projected in the story.  Another thing that was nicely done by the writer was how the melancholia of the past timeline seemed to complement the quirky flow of the present timeline.  Legend of the Blue Sea made me smile a lot and warmed my heart as I cheered on the impossible fulfilment of Cheong and Joon Jae’s reincarnated romance.  It effortlessly kept me piqued on how the plot will unfold and did not give me a slight annoyance because it came well prepared on its weekly spectacle and knows when to trigger the adorable points and cast the entrancing spell for me to stay invested on its future. 

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I struggled giving the proper love “Legend of the Blue Sea” deserves because it is airing with equally amazing dramas on its run, but I remained steadfast and faithful even with the penultimate episode’s joke.  

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The consistency of the plot while using alternate timelines of the past and the present would have gone ambiguous.  But the writer strategically switched the focal character point from the heroine on its preliminary episodes, then maneuvered to the hero halfway through the story, and converged them in equilibrium as we hit the waning events and push through the conflict resolution.  “Legend of the Blue Sea” succeeds in a lively pace of intelligent storytelling with smart characters you will not hate as they don’t play dumb at hindrances thrown at them. 

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Having time-transcending and supernatural love defying themes appeared to be ambitious and risky due to its tendencies of not being able to expound on the development of the characters moving in the story.   But the base fairytale approach that seems to be familiar to anyone is most likely the key ingredient to its engaging ride. 

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I was impressed on how the story stayed focus while fusing the two timelines by not over-using the technicalities and details, but by enhancing the emotional connection of the main leads.  Instead of me having a kdramaaddict moment like “why is Cheong physically adept in the present but not in the past?”, I was more of “come on now, he took a harpoon from the past to save her and she took a bullet for him in the present, let’s give them the ever-after they deserve”.

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I chose to say the best things about this drama given that it was steadily amazing on its ride.  Each episode was a satisfying watch that propelled me to look forward on how the story will unfold.  My only issue was the safe landing or more of auto-pilot ending on the last episode.

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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. 

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