The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Year In Review: 2014

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If there’s one thing that everyone seems to be able to agree on, it’s that time is flying. Like, seriously. Where has 2014 gone?

I can hardly believe that 2015 is almost here, promising/threatening gifts of dramas chock-full of vampires, multiple personalities, and other psychological disorders goodies.

Before 2014 makes her exit, though, I wanted to come out and give credit where it’s due. Coz as much as so many of my friends in dramaland have been talking about a meh drama year, I feel like I had a pretty good drama year, actually.

I know. How did that happen, right?

C’mere.. Lemme tell you about my drama year..

Eric Nam – 지우고 살아

WAS 2014 SUCH A BAD DRAMA YEAR?

I guess the answer to this question is: it depends.

I feel like dramaland spent the year deep in experimentation, for the most part. We got reunions, adaptations, crime thrillers, aliens, ghosts, and even a mermaid. The cable channels were particularly daring in trying and testing new waters, and were the source of some of the more.. interesting endeavors this year in dramaland.

As with most experiments, there are bound to be some failures among the successes. Failure is always disappointing, to be sure. At the same time, I was pretty happy to see that among the non-successes, we had a good number of successes too (well, successes in my books, anyway), and that was enough to keep me a happy camper through pretty much the entire drama year.

2 Keys

There are 2 main things that I’ve learned this year, though. And that is, to get the most out of one’s drama year, it really helps to keep an open mind, and on top of that, it helps if you keep a flexible lens too.

1. An Open Mind

An open mind, you say?

So what exactly do I mean about keeping an open mind?

I think this really comes down to the type of drama you’re willing to give a chance to.

When I started my kdrama obse-, er, I mean, journey, I was ALL about the rom-coms and their associated romantic feels. I wouldn’t touch a sageuk, a melo or a crime thriller with a ten-foot pole for the simple reason that those shows didn’t fit into my idea of what I considered “my kind of entertainment.”

Over time, though, I’ve learned that sometimes, just allowing myself to try something new with an open mind can yield some pretty awesome results.

Before 2014, dramas that I wouldn’t normally consider my “cup of tea,” but which proved to be fantastic watches, include Vampire Prosecutor, Gaksital and The Princess’ Man.

This year, by keeping an open mind, I got to enjoy a good number of dramas that Past Me wouldn’t have touched (more on that later).

The reason I mention this at all, is because I’ve noticed that out of my friends who’ve talked about having meh drama years, there are a number who have firmly kept various dramas at arm’s length for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, that also means that they didn’t watch some of the shows that I ended up really liking this year.

While I certainly believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, values and personal drama-watching principles, I also believe that in most cases, there is room for at least some flexibility. And that if that flexibility were applied, that one might actually stumble on some drama gems.

2. A Flexible Lens

…All the better to see you with, my dear..

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’d probably have come across my recent habit in reviews, of referencing a particular lens that would help one’s enjoyment of a drama.

To be honest, I enjoy deconstruction and analysis as much as the next drama nerd, and have written the monster reviews to prove it. At the same time, I’ve also learned that there really aren’t that many dramas that can withstand detailed scrutiny without crumbling to pieces.

And what a pity that would be, for an otherwise enjoyable drama to fall to the wayside just because I insisted on putting on my critical, analytical lens, right? That would just make me a grumpy viewer, when I’m really here in dramaland for the happy.

Which is why, one of the first things I now do when dipping my toes into a drama, is to decide the kind of lens that would help me enjoy that drama the most.

Sometimes, I find that I need to put on a nonsensical lens (“Yes, nothing makes sense in this world, and that’s ok!”). Sometimes, it’s an OTT lens (“Campiness CAN be funny!”). And sometimes, it’s the trusty ol’ fangirl lens (“Nothing else matters, coz Oppa is awesome!” *cough*Heirs*cough*).

I’ve found that this approach has helped me to enjoy – and sometimes even embrace – certain dramas that other viewers might have dropped in disappointment.

Of course, this doesn’t allow me to magically enjoy everything that dramaland has to offer. I still have my meh moments, for sure. But I do find that with this flexible lens approach, I’m enjoying more dramas than I used to, and I think that’s not a bad thing at all.

MY DRAMA YEAR IN 3 TIERS

Tiers A, B & C, with the facial expressions to go with 😉

I thought long and hard about the best way to divvy up the dramas that I watched this year, and in the context of what I’ve shared so far in this post, I figured that this 3-tier system would make the most sense.

TIER A: You Grabbed Me

Basically a “Tier A” drama is a show that grabbed me; my attention, my heart, and sometimes, even a little bit of my soul.

These dramas may not be perfect (there probably isn’t such a thing as a perfect drama, is there?), but they’ve accomplished the most important thing of all. They sucked me in to their narrative worlds, and left me wanting more after each episode.

TIER B: Some Adjustments Needed, But I Liked You

A “Tier B” drama is a show that I might’ve had to make major lens adjustments for, but which I managed to enjoy quite well, for all its flaws.

How much I like a Tier B drama varies; it can range from “Ooh, I liked it a lot!” to “Quite alright, though not terribly exciting.” The key to this tier is, the dramas didn’t quite grab me enough to get into Tier A, and at the same time, they didn’t force me into the Land of Meh either (otherwise known as “Tier C”).

TIER C: Meh

Pretty self-explanatory, really. Tier C dramas basically disappointed me, or didn’t work for me whichever way I adjusted my viewing lens.

On a related tangent: 

What do you guys think of this rating system? Would you like to see this applied to all the shows I’ve written about on this site? Let me know in the comments please! 🙂

THE DRAMA SPREAD

Psst. Ready for the inside scoop??

One of my 2014 drama resolutions was to watch more dramas – and write more reviews! – after I realized at the end of 2013 that I’d watched only a tiny handful of dramas last year.

I’m pleased to report that I managed to do both, with a little more success on the watching front than the writing one (I plan to get cracking on those backlogged reviews after the festive season! Sorry if I’ve kept anyone waiting for a particular review!).

So without further ado, and as concisely as I can, I give you my year in dramas, the 2014 edition! 🙂

TIER A DRAMAS

You From Another Star

What a fantastic way to start off my drama year. I loved this show, flaws and all, coz it grabbed me by the heart. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me care. Kim Soo Hyun and Jeon Ji Hyun were amazing individually and together, and made me want to believe in aliens, superpowers and happy ever afters. The Event Drama of the Year.

Grade: A+

Review: here.

Secret Love Affair

So. Good. Showing excellence in every area, from writing, to directing, to casting, acting and music, Secret Love Affair is my top pick for Drama of the Year. It started out as a slow burn for me, but just a few episodes in, I got completely sucked into this drama and its very immersive world. Stand-out performances by Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae, crackling chemistry, and a thought-provoking, insightful treatment of, well, everything, come together to make this drama a true masterpiece.

Grade: A++

Review: here.

Witch’s Romance

Witch’s Romance turned out to be such a cute and cracky watch. Great performances by Uhm Jung Hwa and Park Seo Joon, and a good spot of earnest, heartfelt noona-romancin’ made this one of my favorite shows of 2014. An angsty slump in the later stretch docked this show’s final grade by just a little, but I have to credit Show for introducing me to the very delightful, melty charms of Park Seo Joon. Swoon. This show is definitely Gift-Bearer of the Year. Heh.

Grade: A

Review: here.

One Warm Word

One Warm Word was definitely heavy-going at times, but really, it’s such a good show. It’s one of the rare dramas that examines the effect of infidelity on couples, and how our characters work through it all towards resolution and better tomorrows, and it carries out that examination with an unrelenting yet compassionate lens. Excellent writing and performances from the entire cast made this a very worthy, engaging, thought-provoking watch. Definitely the Underrated Melodrama of the Year.

Grade: A

Review here.

Marriage Not Dating

Wacky fun with a lot of heart. Marriage Not Dating’s strength is really in its execution and its primary cast’s committed performances. Han Groo and Yeon Woo Jin both turn in heartfelt performances while being fully committed to The Funny, and the result is cracktastic, laugh-out-loud hilarity with an inner core of true emotion. Props to Show for maintaining its breezy pace consistently from start to finish, and ultimately giving us an ending that felt true to our characters while delivering the all-important feelz.

Grade: A

Review: here.

Fated To Love You

Fantastically cracky in its first half, Fated To Love You could’ve been So Freaking Good, if not for its overly angsty later stretch. Still, for its brisk ‘n breezy first half, its lovely heartfelt core, and for giving us the (very, very!) awesome Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra individually as well as together, I felt that Show deserved a spot in this tier.

Grade: A-

Review: here.

TIER B DRAMAS

It’s Okay It’s Love

Quirky, strange and never terribly strong on the logic, It’s Okay still managed to be an enjoyable and engaging watch. Jo In Sung and Gong Hyo Jin shared a wonderful, organic-feeling sort of chemistry, and Jo In Sung delivered a particularly impressive performance, out of a (mostly) pretty great cast. Special shout-outs to Sung Dong Il and Lee Kwang Soo for being the best crazy housemates a girl could possibly ask for. Liked this one, a lot.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Discovery of Love

A show that grew on me in spite of myself, Discovery of Love is a story of flawed individuals trying to find love, and trying to make that love work. Show delivers good doses of cute and swoony, but it’s really the contemplative, heartfelt bits that left the deepest impression on me. Show’s final grade also gets a bit of a boost, for opening my eyes to the manly-man swoony allure of Eric. Gotta give credit where it’s due, right?

Grade: B+

Review: It’s coming! I promise!

Cunning Single Lady

Flawed, but in possession of so much heart, that I came away liking this show way more than I expected to. Lee Min Jung is likable, and Joo Sang Wook manages to be completely adorkable even when he’s being dashing. Combined, they bring enough adorable to the table that I was willing to overlook some major logic fails, the annoying second leads, and the equally annoying family members.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Mama

Even though (or maybe because?) I only watched the highlight reel version of this, skipping over any plot drag or histrionics, I ended up really, really liking this show. I went into this for Hong Jong Hyun, and came away genuinely touched by the story of a dying woman trying to do her best for her child. Song Yoon Ah turns in an amazingly heartfelt, gut-wrenching performance, while Hong Jong Hyun brings more spark and energy to his role than I’ve seen from him in any of his previous roles.

Grade: B+

Review: Should I do a Flash Review? Or does this count?

Miss Korea

Low-key yet heartwarming, Miss Korea is such an underrated little gem. The characters feel real, their relationships feel real, and their tribulations and dreams also feel real. A lovely, warm story of a group of underdogs coming together to find strength in solidarity, to make a way in the face of adversity, when they fail to find one. Also, Lee Yeon Hee is amazing in this.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Joseon Gunman

Ah, I wanted to love this drama, so much. Glossy and well-directed, this show was pretty to look at, but fell short of actually being awesome. Logic fails happened more than I found acceptable for a show of this calibre, and the tension between wanting Lee Jun Ki to be our hero, and well, allowing his character to actually be a badass and kill people, could’ve been better managed. On the upside, Yoo Oh Sung is quite brilliant, and displays effortless depth and impressive range as our resident antagonist.

Grade: B

Flash Review: here.

Let’s Eat

So delightful, cute, and delicious that I didn’t want to say good-bye. It took a while to grow on me, but this show and its characters eventually sucked me in to the point of, well, love. Never mind some of the meh secondary characters, the sometimes patchy writing, or the blatant PPL. I really grew to like and enjoy the characters, in spite of this show’s flaws. This show’s best assets: Yoon Doo Joon is devilishly charming, Lee Soo Kyung displays the best “delicious eating” that I’ve ever seen, and Barassi is quite possibly the smartest, flounciest pup in all of dramaland.

Grade: B

Review: here.

Bride of the Century

Despite brimming with drama cliches and severely lacking in the logic department, this drama’s brand of cute with a touch of crack just works. It’s fluffy, it’s cute, and Lee Hong Ki is super adorable all manned-up and dashing in a suit. It gets a little draggy in the later episodes, but this show still qualifies as some of the best mindless fluff I have ever seen.

Grade: B

Review: here.

The Three Musketeers

Breezy, pretty to look at but sometimes lacking in the logic department, Three Musketeers was, overall, a decently enjoyable ride. The writing and pacing leans a little uneven, but it was the characters that really drew me in. I had a few issues with Lee Jin Wook’s Crown Prince, but I did genuinely enjoy the bromantic rapport among the musketeers. Seo Hyun Jin is wonderful as our Crown Princess, and this is also the best acting I’ve seen from Jung Yong Hwa to date. Not bad, when you lay it all out like that.

Grade: B

Review: here.

Love Cells

Illogical but earnest and cute, Love Cells is a harmless little web drama for when you’re in the mood for a spot of fluff. It over-promises and totally under-delivers on the promise of Woob screentime, but Jang Hyuk gets a pretty decent and rather adorable cameo.

Grade: B-

Flash Review: here.

Prime Minister and I

Although the story is nothing ground-breaking, Show was in possession of likable leads who shared a nice amount of chemistry, and therefore it could’ve – should’ve – been better. Continuity and believability were 2 problems that this show had, but it was really the eventual copping out on OTP togetherness that derailed this show for me. Still, for giving us some nice crackling OTP moments in the earlier stretches, and for showing me how dashing Lee Bum Soo is, I’m allowing Show to escape a Tier C grading. By the skin of its teeth. 😛

Grade: B-

Review: here.

I Need Romance 3

Sung Joon is sweet and quite dreamy, while Kim So Yeon’s character sometimes made me want to tear my hair out. Wait. Let me rephrase that. Sometimes her character made me want to tear her hair out. From its set-up, to its primary characters and including its secondary characters, I had very mixed feelings about this show. But in the end, the balance tipped just enough so that I liked it more than I disliked it. Which is why Show escapes a Tier C rating. Also by the skin of its teeth.

Grade: B-

Review: here.

TIER C DRAMAS

High School King

I loved the concept of this show. I just didn’t love the execution too much. I found it mostly too hammy and OTT for my taste. Despite some very sweet OTP moments, I had difficulty truly buying into the OTP. I did really love the familial arcs, but those just weren’t enough to make this show work for me. Seo In Guk does a great job portraying 2 very different characters though. Props for that.

Grade: C

Review: here.

Her Lovely Heels

Extremely tropey writing, earnest but stiff acting, and with serious PPL overload, Her Lovely Heels was one of the more underwhelming drama offerings I checked out this year. While it’s pretty to look at and Hong Jong Hyun capably brings the Handsome, this little mini-drama honestly fell squarely into the meh category for me. On the upside, it’s short, so it wasn’t too big of a waste of time.

Grade: C-

Review: here.

DROPPED

My Secret Hotel

Show attempted to serve up breezy-cute mixed with romance and a side of murder, but felt jerky in execution and uneven in pace. Our heroine Yoo In Na is charming and cute, but eventually, I couldn’t buy into her character’s reasoning nor actions, and neither did I feel able to root for either of the leading men. I checked out after episode 11.

Dropped post: here.

Bel Ami

IU is super cute in this, but Jang Geun Suk as a man so gorgeous that he has women fawning over him did not land on the right side of believable (or tasteful) for me. Despite my best effort to watch this through a campy, nonsensical sort of lens, I found it harder and harder to wade through all the tropes and birth secrets. I checked out of this one after just 1.5 episodes.

Emergency Couple

I know this show has a lot of fans, but this one just didn’t work for me. The OTP relationship wasn’t portrayed as real or sincere even from the flashbacks to the couple’s earlier days, and we pretty much jump right into angry fighting, stuff-throwing and bug-eyed yelling. There was just too much vehement, OTT fighting between the OTP for my taste, and I didn’t enjoy the hostility the way the writers seemed to. I couldn’t bring myself to stick around to find out how things unfolded for the OTP, and checked out after 2 episodes.

FATE UNDECIDED

Surplus Princess

I’ve heard mixed reactions to this one, and checked it out more out of curiosity than anything. On the one hand, I’ve found some of it rather entertaining. The idea of a pervy mermaid is really quite novel in dramaland, after all. The little spoofs in episode 1 are cute, and I was particularly amused by the piano spoof of Secret Love Affair.

On the other hand, by episode 2, I’m not finding our pervy mermaid character all that likable, with her tendency for clueless self-centeredness. I’m also not yet invested in any of the characters.

On a shallow note, I also find it hard to believe Song Jae Rim’s Shi Kyung character is cool and suave, thanks (unfortunately?) to his current We Got Married stint with Kim So Eun. When Shi Kyung acts cool, all I can think of is Song Jae Rim’s cheesy dorky efforts to impress Kim So Eun. Oopsie.

Whaddya think, should I press on, or should I drop this one?

Edit: I finished it, and here’s the Flash Review to prove it!

JURY’S STILL OUT

There are still a couple of recent 2014 shows on my plate that I haven’t finished watching yet. Still, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to let y’all know how I’m liking them so far.

Misaeng

I’m currently 8 episodes in, and liking this a lot. It’s understated in its plotting, but that’s what allows the character moments to really shine. Im Shi Wan is quite the revelation in this; he’s so subtle and yet so very effective at communicating to us what his character is feeling. And Lee Sung Min is just plain wonderful.

Update: Review is here!

Bad Guys

7 episodes in, I’m liking this a lot too. It’s as polished, gritty and badass as Heartless City, but so much less convoluted and therefore accessible to the average viewer. The bad boys / crazy dogs are totally growing on me, and I’m already hoping for a second season. Another thing I’m hoping for is a Heartless City crossover, with Jung Kyung Ho making an appearance as Baksa. Now that would be awesome!

Update: Review is here!

Liar Game

7 episodes in, I’m having somewhat mixed feelings about this show. I don’t know what it is, I’m not as invested in it as I feel I should be. As I progress through the episodes, I seem to care less and less about the game and its workings, which is probably not a good thing. I need the writers to spend a little more time reminding me why I should care about this lying game. On the upside, Lee Sang Yoon is rather cool in this.

Update: Flash Review is here!

Plus Nine Boys

8 episodes in, I’m really liking this quite well, actually. It’s got a low-key, slice-of-life quality about it that makes it feel almost family drama-esque. I’m enjoying the characters quite nicely, and find each of their struggles and foibles genuinely relatable. This one is currently the mild comfort food that I reach for when I’m tired and just want something to unwind to.

Update: Flash Review is here!

Pinocchio

I’m just 6 episodes in, and I’m really liking it so far. It’s got a warm cracky quality to it, which really reminds me of its cousin, I Hear Your Voice. Not everything makes perfect sense, but I’m not holding it against Show (yet?), since this is dramaland and things often don’t make perfect sense anyway. Lee Jong Suk is great, as I’d expected. What I hadn’t expected, is how much I’m enjoying Park Shin Hye in this. Outspoken, blunt and spunky, with a soft inner core, is a look that she wears well. Fingers crossed that this stays cracky through to the end!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

What? Did I watch that many dramas?

Wow. That was quite a lot of dramas, wasn’t it?? I totally outdid myself, I think!

In last year’s year-in-review post, I only managed to cover 10 dramas that were from 2013. And today, I’ve talked about a whopping 30 dramas in this post. Yay, me? (Although, my Real Life friends would probably say I have a serious problem..! 😛 )

Now, back to the original question: was this really a meh drama year?

Considering how most of the dramas I watched fell into Tier B and above, with 6 whole dramas feeling like solid Tier A dramas, I’d say I had a pretty good drama year, all in all!

Given all the experimentation that dramaland’s been doing, I’d say the success rate is actually pretty decent. Yes, I’m a little wary of that multiple-personality trend that is about to descend on our screens, but hey, dramaland’s managed to pull off some pretty weird stuff this year, so I’m still cautiously hopeful.

Just remember to bring the feelz, dramaland, ok? Coz when it comes down to it, that’s the real reason we’re all here.

Mmm.. Feeeelz.

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

56 thoughts on “Year In Review: 2014

  1. “Mmmmmm Feelz”. Lol
    I really loved this review and felt the way you divided them into tiers really worked.

    As for me,2014 was a funny year. Dropped quite a lot of dramas, enjoyed some dramas and absolutely,totally fell in love with a drama and an actor. So based on just that last part,2014 was a great year for me 🙂

    I also discovered quite a lot of blogs including yours this yr which enriched my drama watching so I have absolutely no complaints about this year.

    Love the blog, continue writing and see you next year!!

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    • Aw, thanks dear Panda!! I’m so glad you enjoyed this year-in-review, and that you like the 3-tier system. I’m probably going to apply that to all the shows I’ve written about on the site, to make it easier for readers to navigate their way to shows they’d like. 🙂

      Yay that you enjoyed your drama year – falling head over heels for a drama AND an actor is a very positive thing indeed! For me, falling for Woob last year was a definite highlight, so even though I didn’t see all that many 2013 dramas in the end, it was still a good year for me. 😉

      Thanks for supporting and loving the blog, Panda!! It’s readers and supporters like you that make this place a fun place to hang out. Smooches!

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  2. Thank you for your reviews; you confirm some of my drama tastes and spur me on to watch others. Dramas are like food…there is some haute cuisine, some great tasty homecooking, and some downright awful junk food that you shouldn’t go near. My favorite dramas are the ones that I have to rewatch and read recaps; basically, play until I get it out of my system. My Spring Days and You From Another Star were the two 2014 dramas that really hit my heart.

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    • You’re so right, Islander!! Dramas are like food! And I’m really pleased with some of the haute cuisine and with the tasty homecooking that I’ve sampled from dramaland in 2014! And I totally know what you mean about getting a drama out of your system! The feels just need to be worked off before you can move on, right? Writing reviews helps me with that, and the more feels a drama gives me, the more likely that drama will get a monster review! Coz all the feels have to go somewhere! 😄

      I didn’t watch My Spring Days, but I’ve heard some good things about it and haven’t crossed it off my list. I might check it out sometime. I did really love YFAS though, and have every intention of rewatching that sometime! ^^

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  3. Now that I’ve had my noodles (yes, I actually went out to get some.) you know I’m fueled up to share my thoughts. 😉 First of all, phenomenal year-end recap! It blows my mind how you managed to watch all that!

    One funny thought I’d like to get out of the way–it’s hilarious that there was an Heirs reference in there. You’d think by 2014 we’d be cleansed of it. What am I saying? It’s my gateway to the k-dramaverse! (And your gateway to the Woob. hahaha) So yeah! fine! I watched it! Not just once! It’s almost like how people like Twilight. 🙂 but I digress.

    Anyway, I cannot wait for you to review MnD. Loved that show although for the life of me I don’t feel like re-watching any time soon. You know how I feel about Misaeng. But you’re right–Im Shi Wan truly is spectacular with his nuanced performance every time! And yes Sales Team 3 is pretty much why I still watch it. I will take your advice to heart and not attempt to marathon this one. I am 9 episodes in, add overcast skies and illness, and you have a pretty miserable me. BUT the show is genius. It rings so true that I am reminded of the day job. While on vacation. Hence the misery. 🙂

    Can’t wait to sink my teeth into BotC and SLA.

    Finally, I am glad you are liking Pinocchio. I love the concept and yes, the cast. (Choi family FTW!) And finally we’ve got a Park Shin Hye who’s not soaked in tears all the time. And my god. This is the first time I’m watching Lee Jong Suk. Oh good lord those lips. They look so soft.

    *Cough* Anyway, I am looking forward to hear what you think about Pinocchio.

    Sprry for rambling. Thank you for all your hard work on this! And here’s to an interesting 2015 that has less noble idiocy and more cracky k-dramas!

    Like

    • Aw, thanks Jo! I did manage to watch an insane amount of drama last year, didn’t I?? 😛 It blows my mind too, to be honest! I know there are other bloggers who’ve managed to watch more than I did, but I’m still a little startled that I managed to talk about 30 dramas in this post, after just 10 the year before! 😄

      Oh, Heirs. I don’t think we will ever be cleansed of it, tbh! There was just so much hype, followed by so much disappointment. That’s a loooong way to fall, imo! 😄 But yes, it gave me Woob on my screen, so I can’t complain too much. As for gateway, I really got clued in to Woob’s brand of awesome in School 2013, if we’re being technical about it! I don’t think you’ve seen this one, since you’re seeing LJS for the first time in Pinocchio. Well, you totally should. Woob and Lee Jong Suk are wonderful together in School 2013. You will LUFF them, I promise you!! 😀

      I recommend both BotC and SLA, and also, I recommend being led by your mood, for both. You need to be in the mood for mindless fluff for BotC, and you need to be in the mood for a contemplative art film, when it comes to SLA.

      Here’s to a great drama year for us all – and I second your wish of less noble idiocy and more cracky kdramas, and up that wish with a serious wish for Woob to come back to dramaland with a good role! Preferably one where he gets to be super swoony. Coz a fangirl has her priorities, heh. 😉

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  4. Gah! I meant “Sorry for rambling!”

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  5. I don’t get to visit your blog much, but when I do, I’m always impressed by your writing and insightful reviews.

    Thanks for this – will definitely be looking into some of these dramas – especially the Tier A & Tier B ones!

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  6. Also, I watched “Love Cells” (which I quite enjoyed, possibly because of its extreme brevity – watched it in one sitting) and agree that the screen time they seemed to promise of Woobie was sadly, completely and utterly lacking. It’s like he spent no more than 30 seconds total on screen – granted, looking very pretty, but still….

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    • Aw, thank you Byeol! That’s really sweet of you to say. And it’s always a pleasure when you can and do drop by! 😀

      Yes, the Tier A dramas are totally worth checking out, and many of the B and B+ dramas as well. The B- dramas, well, not a huge deal if you don’t have time for them, I say. We need to prioritize, after all! 😉

      As for Love Cells, there was literally 25 seconds of Woob in the first episode. Yes, I checked. And that big finale scene with Woob was so cheesy that it didn’t feel satisfying to me. But still, like you said, it’s a fun little thing as a web drama. They just shouldn’t have messed with our expectations by promising – and they kept on promising and promising! – Woob on our screens. That’s just fraud. AND, toying with our feelings.

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  7. WOW! You have been busy. 😄 I liked your categories, very clear and easy to understand. It’s always nice to read your thoughts on dramas I’ve watched/sampled too, even when we see things differently.

    I wouldn’t say this was overall a ‘meh’ year as I managed to add not one but 4 dramas into my collection of all time faves. Two of which I loved to bits. Sometimes it’s not about quantity but quality. 🙂 I wish an open mind and flexible lense would help but alas, that’s how I started only to become the hard to please, grumpy gurmudgeon I’m now, ha. No amount of fiddling helps when a drama rubs me the wrong way. At least I still check out stuff even when I’m initally iffy about the offerings.

    My 2014 consists of 13 dramas, 2 of which I’m still watching, slowly (though both have already ended). I’m not counting Healer as more than half of it will be in 2015. I’m probably not going to do a year end post as I’m just too strapped for time, besides having a cold that’s making me even more tired than usually. We’ll see how it goes, I’m definitely not going to stress about that.

    Misaeng… ah, the way our preception on some things and several characters chage in the course of the drama. I’d say best is yet to come (at ep 8). ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, right? I sure watched a lot more drama in 2014 than I did in 2013! I feel like I was trying to make up the 2013 deficit or something! 😄

      Yay that you like the categories, Timescout! I’m trying out the rating scale, coz a reader suggested I rate all the dramas I’ve reviewed, and I wanted to find a system that works for me.

      That’s really cool, that you found 4 new all-time faves in 2014, Timescout!! That’s quite amazing, considering how so many dramas don’t hit the sweet spot for you. If 2014 managed to give you 4 new all-time faves, I’d consider it a very good drama year indeed! ^^

      Thanks for the heads-up on Misaeng.. I’m taking it slow on this one. It’s definitely not a drama that I can see myself marathoning, but an episode on any given day usually feels just about right. 🙂

      Bummer that you haven’t been feeling well lately, my friend. :/ That’s gotta be a downer. I hope you feel all better soon, and that you’ll soon be raring to go into this new year!

      Like

  8. Very good year end review! I was one who had a ‘meh’ year. My favorites came toward the end of the year – Hotel King, Mr. Baek, Birth of a Beauty. Also loved Big Man, Gap Dong, and Three Days was intense. I will try to use the lenses you speak of when viewing dramas. But one thing I learned this year is, it’s okay to drop. I’ve dropped so many, whether it’s for characters that rub me the wrong way, or I’m simply bored. I can always move on to the next one or watch an old one. Or I turn to J-drama and particular T-dramas. My J and T lists are growing longer too. lol

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    • Lol. I just realized that I haven’t checked out any of the dramas you mentioned! I do have interest to check out Three Days and Birth of a Beauty, but I don’t know when I’ll get around to it. Dramaland keeps coming up with new shiny dramas, that my watch list is literally never-ending! 😄

      Learning to drop a drama is a totally legit lesson in the drama journey, I think! I used to be a total completist, and would soldier on to the bitter end, just to know that I’d finished the drama. Thankfully, I’m now fully capable of dropping a drama, even if I’m two-thirds of the way in (like I was for I Miss You!). Life’s too short to spend it on dramas that aggravate or underwhelm us! ^^

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  9. You weren’t kidding when you said you saw a lot more dramas this year! I’m impressed, and you also managed to write up a review for most of them! Woahhh! How did you have the time!? 😛

    Yeahh, you’re right. I guess everyone’s drama year depends. Everyone is different so of course we all have our different opinions. I’m glad you enjoyed your drama year!

    Like

    • Right? I really saw a lot more drama this year than in 2013! One of the things that helped, was that I’ve become more flexible in terms of how much I write for a single review. I’ve decided that shorter reviews are totally ok too, and that’s helped to free up more time for me to watch AND write about dramas. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up in 2015 too! ^^

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  10. The tier system is a good idea. I would suggest adding tiers D and E, for dramas you actively dislike, and dramas you really really hated. The idea of “meh” to me indicates something you were lukewarm on , so it means more average in my mind. Also, while everything you said about Bel Ami is true, if you dropped it in the second episode, you missed out on I.U. and Lee Jang Woo as the most charming and quirky couple I’ve seen in a long time. I suggest just watching their scenes and skipping the rest of the mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • IU and Lee Jang Woo together kept me going with Bel Ami. They were so charming. Once he finishes Rosy Lovers hopefully someone has the sense to create a drama for those two.

      Some dramas hook you in that you just keep watching in hopes that it gets better. That’s why I finished it. But if it were airing now, I may have dropped it midway and merely checked in from time to time to see what adorable ‘David’ was up to.

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    • Thanks Brenda, I’m glad you like the tier system! I’m still chewing on whether to have tiers D & E, coz even though I used to be a total completist, I’ve stopped soldiering on for dramas that I actively dislike or really, really hated. Which means that I probably would hardly have occasion to mark a drama as a D or E drama. Perhaps the D would stand for “Dropped” instead! I’ll think about it some more; thanks for the suggestion! 🙂

      I’ll keep in mind your suggestion about Bel Ami. I don’t know if I’ll come back to it, given how many other dramas I have interest to check out, but I won’t say never! I do have a soft spot for IU. 🙂

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  11. Like your blog – referred to me by a friend and I agree with most of your assessments. The only thing I want to comment on is “Bel Ami” (Pretty Man). I, too, avoided this one for sometime and really disliked the first 2-3 episodes but something kept me going. Suddenly, around episode 10, everything changed and it became deep and meaningful – then because downright powerful in the message, character development and love story. Simply marvelous and a surprise. Several k-drama addict friends agree with me. Put this back on your list for later if you ever get bored. Probably not likely with all the great stuff out there to watch. Thanks also for your reference to Gakistal, which I watched just a couple of months ago and it blew me away so hugely that it is now my #1 favorite drama out of 100 watched over 14 months. It had everything – simply everything. I wept bucket at the sheer immensity and beauty of the story. Anyway – enough chatter. Happy New Year!

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    • Hey there Eloise, welcome to the blog! I’m sorta chuffed that your friend recommended this site to ya 🙂

      That’s interesting, about Bel Ami. 10 episodes feels like a long time to wait for a show to make a meaningful turnaround, but I’m glad to hear that Bel Ami did turn into a meaningful watch. I’ll definitely keep your suggestion in mind, even though, as you said, the likelihood isn’t super high, given the number of other shows that I’m curious to check out. Still, I won’t say never! And I’ve been known to completely change my mind about a show on the 2nd attempt, so there’s hope that I’ll like Bel Ami yet!

      Also, I’m so glad that you love Gaksital! It really is a fantastic watch, and is so meaningful and intense in ways that so many other dramas aren’t. If you’d like to check out the monster review that I wrote for it, you can find it here. 🙂 At the same time, if you haven’t checked out Chuno, I’m thinking that you might like that drama too. It’s intense and a masterpiece, and shares some similarities in theme and sentiment with Gaksital. 🙂

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  12. Hi Kfangurl,

    I’m loving the tier system!! Especially since you used the screencap from Miss Korea for it. I like your reviews and how you keep everything short and simple, now I know what I want to watch. AFter reading dramabeans and your year in reviews I realized that I’ve only watched less than a quarter of the kdramas that came out this(last??) year which left me with an iffy feeling. Complete opposite of you! I also didn’t like most of the dramas that came out this year. I hope 2015’s better. I need more crack dramas like City Hunter and Queen Inhyun’s Man!

    I really like that KDramas are experimenting with new plots and supernatural, crime etc. I hope last year was like the experimental year and this year will just be awesome. I didn’t really have any crack dramas for 2014 unfortunately.

    I loved Surplus Princess while it was airing. It gave me something to look forward to and I loved the little fanbase it had. However that was also what made Tvn cut it short and I was really disappointed with the spoilers I saw and how my OTP didn’t end up together. I was so unsatisfied I didn’t finish it lol. I looved Witch’s Romance mostly ’cause of Park Seo Joon. His acting was on point for a newbie actor who only had small parts in Dream High2! I hope he has more lead roles in the future. His eye smile and singing were so cutee. I want to watch marriage not dating but have had a bad impression of both leads so I’ve been putting it off. Emergency couple seemed annoying from that fighting scene. I think I rewatched the first eps a couple of times cuz I never finished them. Fated to love you got pretty angsty after she lost the baby and I didn’t finish LOL. Discovery of love was boring. Miss Korea was alright I watched it with Chinese dubs haha.

    I wrote a lot since I don’t have any friends that watch kdrama so bare with me. Happy new year and happy blogging. I will be looking forward to your posts this year as well. I love your pure pretty posts 😀

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    • Thanks Mae, I’m glad you like the tier system – especially coz I’ve just applied the same system (with just a slight variation) to all the reviews on the site. And no worries about leaving long comments – I totally understand about not having real life friends to share the drama love. I have friends who watch drama, but none who are willing to have long drama conversations with me, lol.

      Aw, sorry to hear that you didn’t find a crack drama in 2014.. I’m glad you enjoyed Witch’s Romance tho, I really liked that one! I agree that Park Seo Joon is a wonderful actor. I really enjoyed his performance in One Warm Word as well, which is a very different genre than Witch’s Romance. I really liked Marriage Not Dating, and I do hope you decide to give it a chance. It might change your mind about both leads – I thought both Han Groo and Yeon Woo Jin were pretty great in it. 🙂

      For something a little more recent, have you tried Pinocchio yet? It’s got a warm cracky sort of feel to it, and I’m really liking it. 🙂

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  13. The KDrama force was strong with 2014 compared to 2013 where I enjoyed only two dramas. It could be because I discovered a way to watch dramas I did not have access before (I finally could watch Nine and omo! And King of Dramas too ! ) or because I discovered a few KHotties for whom I have great expectations but I think it’s more because I finally learn how to avoid what prevents me to really enjoy what KDramaland has to offer .
    I’m also grateful to 2014 for teaching me how to drop a drama ( and I dropped loads, no more School 2013 or Fated to Love You fiascos) and how to try dramas where I don’t know any of the actors (A New Leaf was definitely new for me). I’m also grateful for the discovery of Joo Sang Wook, Ji Chang wook, Nam Goong Min and last but not least Lee Jin Wook *scream*. Major. Crush.

    But 2015 will be the year of selection. I will focus on dramas
    -with only leading males. Bad Guys is by far the winner of 2014 for me: super entertaining, great convoluted-and-still-logical plot (the best ones in my opinion), more real than life actors, entirely dedicated to testosterone and not trying to hide it.
    The Three Muketeers is a good 3rd. How do you recognize a good Classic ? It can be appropriated by anyone, in any circumstances. And this one was French : cocorico ! Super enjoyable to watch D’Artagnan and Milady’s fights transposed with taste in Goreyo times.
    -or which are really funny (and not trying desperately like FTLY), even if there’s a female character implied : Good morniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing My Love From the Stars ! First time a KDrama made me LMAO, has to be at least n°2 .
    -or which have some memorable skinship scene like the beer kiss one (and what followed) in Witch’s Romance, another winner of this year, and if possible with one of my KHotties.

    And not anything else, especially rom-com with Otteke girls (watching Misaeng and Healer at the moment and so far so good). May the Force be with me.

    Like

    • Oh, I do agree that 2014 was a better drama year than 2013 – at least, that was my experience! And yes, when we make viewing adjustments, we tend to find more dramas to enjoy – again, that’s my own experience too! 🙂

      Glad you found more dramas – and khotties! – to enjoy in 2014, asotss! If you liked Jun Ji Hyun as Song Yi in My Love From the Stars, you might enjoy Han Groo in Marriage Not Dating. She’s spunky, funny, and all in all quite lovable, I thought. And I have a feeling you’d approve the kissing in this show too, as a bonus 😉

      Like

  14. Now I know where to come If I want good advices for KDramas 😀
    http://www.lemondedeouej.blogspot.com

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  15. LOVED this post!!! There are definitely some dramas on here that I want to check out and get into…but yeah, where did 2014 go?!?!?! It was January 2014 just yesterday!!!! Thank you though for posting this! I need to get my drama life more organized and try and magic some time from my schedule so I can watch and blog more! ^^

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    • Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, dewaani!! 😀 It’s true, 2014 just flew by, and with your big move and everything, I imagine the year must’ve flown by faster for you than most! Yes, please do magic some time out of your schedule to watch some of these very worthy dramas. And yes, to blog more too – I’ve missed you! So glad you seem to be more “back” now! 😀

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      • I am trying. Slowly but surely. Seriously, how did fables like the tortoise and the hare become so applicable in life 😉 Haha. There are so many dramas sometimes though that I have no idea what to do with all of them!!! How does Korea do it?!??! It seems so crazy to think of.

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        • I’ve concluded that there are just way more dramas than a single person is able to watch, seriously. It’s taken me awhile to come around to this, but it’s true.

          Dramaland is churning ’em out at a crazy rate. Even if we did nothing but watch kdrama all day long, every single day, we wouldn’t be able to watch ’em all. Once I accepted that, it’s been sorta liberating for me. I hope that helps somehow! 🙂

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          • Haha. That is also the conclusion that I’ve come to. I wish that they would focus a little more on getting a little more quality out there with the quantity. It’s not like they would miss out if they aired fewer dramas a year. I’ve also learned that sometimes I only like a drama if I marathon it and don’t live watch (though I do live watch). I don’t think I would have finished Fated to Love You if it were live-airing. *sigh* oh dramas.

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            • Absolutely YES to more quality in our kdramas! I feel like that balance can well afford to shift. We’re getting inundated with so many dramas, and there’re quite a few duds to sift through to get to the goodies. And I totally get what you mean about marathoning vs. live watching. Some shows just can’t stand up to the week-long wait between episodes. That’s a big part of why I prefer to marathon, as a general rule. It does mean I’m almost always behind everyone else though! 😄

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              • And of course there is the whole: the longer I watch dramas, the more I get bored to tears by the duds. I am so glad though for the bloggersphere and the twitterverse because I feel like I have so many consultants on hand who I can ask about which dramas are airing. I remember in the first days of my drama watching, I was just bumbling around trying to figure out what was out there. Somehow, I always get sucked into live watching though because people get so excited about dramas. Haha.

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                • Lol. I find that I’m never able to keep up consistently when it comes to live watching, so I’m content to lag behind everyone else a little bit. That gives me the benefit of getting to hear which shows have more buzz. AND, it gives me more episodes on hand when I do decide to jump on the bandwagon. I’m making progress though! Now I’m watching more currently airing stuff now than before, which is a pretty big change. I mean, I’m still lagging behind everyone else.. Just, not as much! 😄

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I struggle with live watching. Just trying to keep up with 2 right now is stressing me out. That’s as much as I can handle. I do my best. I actually really enjoy following my Year Drama list and have been keeping up quite well. I already knocked out six since I put the list together. Go me! Lol

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                    • Heh. I have never managed to keep up with a single live watch. Even for Heirs (with Woob! For Woob!), I fell way behind. And more recently, I totally fell behind on Pinocchio, and am currently behind everyone else, for Healer. This is why I think even dipping my toes into a show that’s still airing is a feat unto itself, for me. 😄

                      Wow. You’re managing to watch quite a bit of drama, despite your hectic schedule! Good on ya! 😀

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Wow, not even one! lol. Well, I enjoy watching dramas when they’re all finished too. But sometimes that’s dangerous because new ones come on and then I forget about the first.
                      With my drama list, I also managed to stick to one drama at a time too. Almost. I do most of my watching late night. I can sometimes knock 3 episodes out if I’m really into it. I’ve slowed down though. So the latter 3 of my 6 took longer to get through.

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                    • I used to be a total one-drama-at-a-time kinda girl, but now I’ve gotten all greedy (and quite possibly distracted too); I watch at least 5 dramas at a time I think. Sometimes I kind of forget what I’m watching and need to refer to the Watching page on the blog, HAHA.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • LOL. Hate when that happens. I tend to think now, if I really forget what’s going on in a drama I’m currently watching, then it might be a snoozer for me, and I’m just not that into it.

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                    • Heh. For me, it’s not coz the drama’s no good. I think my attention can be a little fickle sometimes. I got distracted away from Pinocchio by Healer, but I still do really like Pinocchio.. Which is why I’ll check the list. To remind myself of what I’m watching, and why I like it. 😄

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                  • Hehe. I go through phases. If the drama is good and I have time, I have no problems keeping up. It’s when it enters those loooooooong stretches of noble idiocy and writers doing stupid things with the drama in the live -shoot stretch that I often wish I had waited to marathon the drama. Or when I go online today to do some drama watching and my VPN doesn’t work. *sigh* I don’t really want to torrent k-drama, though I might just have to. I have also been looking into paying for a good VPN. It’s rather ironic that I live in the land of K-dramas, but because I don’t know enough Korean, I have to use a VPN. I should try and find out from my Korean friends what they do to watch drama.

                    Like

                    • Oh, have you tried sites like http://myasiantv.com/? And also, have you tried the app DRAMOT+? There’s an iOS version and an android version. I have it on my iPad, and it’s pretty updated, plus it also has a fair amount of older dramas too. You don’t need VPN for those – maybe give them a shot before deciding if you need to invest in a good VPN? 🙂

                      Like

                    • I’ll have to take a look at those. I am just so used to my HD on DF and Viki that I want that VPN status. It’s also so I can access other stuff that I watched when I still lived in the US. I just hate georestricting! I guess I want HD all the time now that I’ve been paying for premium services. Maybe you and I will have to have a chat about how everyone else outside of the US accesses drama. I just wish that companies understood that people want K-drama and they would rather do things nicely.

                      Like

                    • Yeah, it is a hassle, and sure, if you’d like to have a chat sometime about that, just let me know! http://myasiantv.com/ offers HD options which work most of the time, and their ads are on the site, and not in the videos. Which makes for a fairly seamless experience for the most part. You might want to take a look there first, if HD is your priority 🙂 DRAMOT+ isn’t HD, but since it’s for mobile devices like tablets and phones, the lack of HD isn’t so obvious, and the watch quality is pretty decent. Worth a look, at least 🙂

                      Like

                    • I just watched an episode on myasiantv and it wasn’t bad. I didn’t figure out the HD though. I actually never watch on my phone…the small screen irritates me. Haha. Man, I sound so picky 😉 Thanks for the heads up with that though! You’re the best!

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                    • You’re very welcome! And, for the HD on myasiantv, choose the 720p option. The default is 360p. It’s not *true* HD, but it’s pretty close! 🙂

                      Like

  16. I agree. I think 2014 was a pretty good drama year, or at least better than 2013 was. While only one drama was grade A for me (Misaeng), I did have good times with other dramas I watched. Of course, there were a quite a few disappointments, but I’m quick to move on from shows that disappointed me on to new and better dramas. Besides, I don’t want to lose my optimism and be one of those people who only watch dramas to mock them and not because they enjoy watching dramas. And what you said about keeping an open mind and a flexible lens is definitely something to keep in mind.

    Thanks for the review 🙂

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    • THANK YOU. I really think 2014 was a better drama year than 2013. I felt 2013 was rather underwhelming, but I thought maybe I was the odd one out since I watched so little drama in 2013. Thanks for validating my gut feel about that, Indigo! ^^

      And, YES again, about not being one of those people who watch dramas only to mock them. I know what you’re talking about, and that’s not the kind of viewer I want to be. I got on the drama train for the fun and the happy, and if I’m busy criticizing everything about a show and tearing it to pieces, where would that leave the happy? So yes, let’s keep our optimism as much as we can, chingu! 🙂

      Like

  17. Pingback: Year In Review: 2015 | The Fangirl Verdict

  18. Hello. Did you watched Healer?

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    • I did, actually! I LOVED it. I am very behind on writing it a proper review (too many feels, can’t find the words to contain it all.. Plus, got sidetracked by Real Life partway through writing 😛 ). I fully plan to finish my Healer review, pinky swear! In the meantime, you can read the short blurb I wrote about it. I included it in my 2015 Year in Review, since the show ended in 2015. 🙂 You can find it here. I hope that helps!

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  19. Thank you for your review & recommendation of Secret Love Affair. That was a rare gem. I read somewhere that it had the indie feels in a k-drama. I concur. I give it a 10 out of 10 ( the closest I have given is 9 and that was for Healer.) SLA is a masterclass. Perfect in every way – although sometimes I wanted the pace to go a little faster. The show never lost its integrity. Yoo Ah In – watching him play the piano was a pleasure in itself. The leading lady was so elegant. And the 20 year gap – i did not feel it. The love they had was pure and honest. This show is one that will definitely be underappreciated but for me it will be one of my top k-dramas.

    Also, I want to send my appreciation. I often read your posts first before I watch some of the older shows that I have not seen before. You are always so spot on with your reviews and recommendations. Thank you.

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    • Hi there triplem! I’m sorry this reply is coming so late, but I just wanted to say, I’m so glad you enjoyed SLA!!! It’s one of my top-rated kdramas, it’s just so good. ❤ It’s truly a rare gem in dramaland, particularly since it’s got a very art film, non-mainstream sort of vibe. A lot of viewers were put off by the premise &/or the posters, but this is so much more than a cheap shot at a scandalous affair. I’m just so pleased that it’s getting more love from you. 🙂

      Also, I’m so glad that you’re finding the reviews helpful! We must have similar tastes in dramas 😉 In which case, might I recommend Nirvana In Fire? It’s Chinese, not Korean, but it’s just so magnificent. I think it’s possibly the best drama I have ever seen. You can check out my quick, spoiler-lite review here. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! 🙂

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