The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Year In Review: 2018

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What a year, I say.

I know I said last year that Dramaland was exploding with more dramas than ever before, but Dramaland basically outdid itself in 2018 – and then some.

You know when you have only 2 ice-cream flavors, and only room in your stomach for 1 scoop, it’s really easy to choose, but you still wish you had more flavors to choose from? Well, it’s all fine and good when it increases to 5 flavors, or 10 flavors, right? But when it gets to like, a thousand flavors, your eyes glaze over, you get hit by decision paralysis, and it just feels impossible to choose, anymore? Same thing.

I used to try and keep up with Dramaland, especially after I started blogging. I’d try to stay on top on what dramas were airing, and which ones were good, and I’d try to watch all the reportedly good ones, because I’m a curious cat and FOMO is real, yo. Well. I think 2018 is the year that I realized it is humanly impossible to keep up with everything that Dramaland is putting out, and there is just not enough time in one person’s world, to watch all the reportedly good ones, and take time for the ones that you wanna watch, whether anyone else is interested or not.

So 2018 is the year that I stopped trying. Uh.. Kinda.

There are just too many dramas, I tell ya!

My Mister OST – 어른

MY DRAMA YEAR IN 2018

Overall, I feel like I’ve had a solidly good drama year.

Dramaland managed to put out some really good dramas this year, and even though I didn’t try out every single one that people said were good, I’m happy with the ones I did see. Thanks to thoughtful suggestions from you guys, I discovered some dramas that I really loved, that I wouldn’t have attempted to watch otherwise. Thanks, y’all. You got my back, and I love ya for it. ❤

Part of the reason I’ve been unable to keep up with all the kdramas that people have been saying are good, is because I’ve been curious to keep exploring Chinese dramas. Being ethnically Chinese, but having cut my serious drama teeth on Korean dramas, it’s been an interesting experience getting into Chinese dramas in the last few years. For one thing, it’s been making me feel more connected to my roots. The other thing is, watching Chinese dramas has been the most effective method I’ve personally experienced, of improving my Mandarin. Beats all the Chinese lessons I ever attended in school, hands down. Thank you, C-dramas. Because of you, I’m now more fluent in Mandarin than I’ve ever been, and hopefully I’ll continue to get better. 😉

This year, I did get into a bit of a drama rut for about a month – just a while back, in October – but I’m happy to report that it didn’t take long for me to get back into the swing of things. Thanks for your patience while I was out of action, and thanks too, for continuing to enjoy the reviews. The reason I’ve been able to keep at this for as long as I have (6 years now, can you believe it?!), is the support that I receive from all of you. Thanks, y’all. ❤

Of course, besides the really good dramas I mentioned, Dramaland also put out a good number of duds, as well as a whole range of stuff in-between. On the upside, you could say that there was a little something for everyone, more or less. Whether you’re a drama newbie for whom everything is amazing and shiny, or a drama veteran who’s seen one trope or ten too many, you probably found at least a couple of dramas to love this year, I’d like to think. On the downside, like I said earlier, there’s a lot of stuff to sift through – more than ever before, in the entire history of Hallyu, I think! – to find the shows that actually work for you.

Which is where I hope this year-in-review will come in useful for you guys. As before – coz why fix what’s not broken, eh? – I’m going to break down my drama year, so that maybe your drama year will become a little better. I’m hopeful that you’ll find a great show you might not have watched otherwise, or perhaps avoid a trainwreck – or three – that might’ve made you pull out your hair. Not a bad outcome either way, right? 🙂

THE ONES WORTH MAKING TIME FOR

This first section is reserved for all the gems that I watched this year. These are the dramas that made me laugh, made me cry, made me feeeel, and basically grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go. These are the ones that I wanted to watch back-to-back episodes of, and then felt sorry to say goodbye to, when I got to the end. If you have no time for any other dramas in your life, these are the ones that I think are worth carving time out of your schedule for.

For the record, and as you likely know, if you’ve been around the blog for a bit, I like to include dramas that started last year, but ended this year, in this post. It just always makes more sense to me, to judge a drama only after it’s finished its run. After all, too many dramas start strong, and then whimper to the finish line, right?

Oh, and one last thing: one man’s meat is another man’s poison, as they say. So what works for me, may not work for you, and vice versa.

KOREA

My Mister (My Ahjusshi)

This one is literally the best drama I saw this year. It looks gloomy, yes, but give this one a chance, and you’ll likely be sucked in by its warmth and beauty. I loved the themes of solidarity, kinship, loyalty, and hope, which Show serves up with elegance and care. I loved the characters and I enjoyed getting to know them, as they came to accept just how human they are, and how humans need other humans, to live. Beautifully written, wonderfully delivered, and lovingly directed, and with a truly lovely OST, to boot. Cannot recommend enough.

Grade: A+

Review: here.

Money Flower

This is the revenge melo that I never knew I needed, in my life. Assured writing, cracky pacing, and consummate acting, all come together to make this one addictively compelling package. Jang Hyuk is prowling-panther magnificent in this, and I just could. not. look. away. As a fantastic bonus, the music in this is masterful and completely consuming, which just took everything to a whole other level. Captivating to the very last drop.

Grade: A-

Review: here.

Prison Playbook (Wise Prison Life)

Contender for the warmest, most heartfelt prison drama ever made. Show takes the time and care to make its hodgepodge ensemble cast of characters really come alive, and weaves through and among them, a story of humanity, understanding, and community, even in the midst of trial and tribulation. As a bonus, the bromance is strong in this one.

Grade: A-

Review: here.

Life On Mars

Fantastical and sometimes purposefully vague, Show was something that I never fully understood, but that didn’t stop me from viscerally enjoying it anyway. Jung Kyung Ho is absolutely fantastic in this, as are Go Ah Sung and Park Sung Woong, and I loved this bunch of characters’ reluctant burgeoning relationships with one another. Weird but wonderful in the best way.

Grade: A-

Flash Review: here.

Thirty But Seventeen

A sweet, heartfelt story about growing up, and being true to yourself and the people who matter to you. Found friends, found family, and personal – and interpersonal – healing are the themes of the day in this one, and it all comes together in the most cozy, endearing way possible. Shin Hye Sun is wonderful in this, but it was Ahn Hyo Seop who unexpectedly stole my heart. “Don’t think, feeeel!”

Grade: A-

Review: here.

CHINA

Nirvana In Fire 2

A very solid sequel to the breathtakingly amazing Nirvana In Fire. Nothing can quite match up to the magnificence of NIF, but this is a worthy follow-up, especially for fans of Season 1. Show was a slow burn for me, but by Show’s second half, I found myself fully gripped by these characters’ journeys. At its best, Show had me crying big, heartfelt tears, from being so moved. This show also turned me into a Liu Haoran fan. He’s so young, and yet, he manages to pull up so much gravitas. Very impressive indeed.

Grade: A

Flash Review: here.

SOLID WATCHES I’D RECOMMEND

Familiar Wife

Warm, heartfelt, hopeful, and even kind of funny, once you get past the initial rough-times set-up. Ji Sung and Han Ji Min are very good in this, and best of all, the writing proves to be thoughtful and assured, all the way through to the end. I was genuinely surprised – in the best way possible – at how solid this one turned out to be. Totes recommend.

Grade: B++

Flash Review: here.

The Third Charm

A poignant, thoughtful, sensitive story of personal journey, growth, and maturity. Sometimes it gets rather dark, with plot points involving pain and personal tragedy, but overall, Show presents a perspective of hope that should resonate well with a slightly more mature audience. Seo Kang Joon and Esom are excellent in this, and make their characters truly come to life. As a bonus, the music is lovely.

Grade: B++

Review: here.

Just Between Lovers

This melo bravely delves into the rarely-mentioned realities of surviving a tragedy, and explores the mental and emotional wounds that run much deeper than the physical ones sustained. Lee Joon Ho and Won Jin Ah are very good as our leads, and together, they bring to life their characters’ combined story of survival, understanding, and empathy, and the healing process that stretches out, long after the physical wounds have closed. Not an easy watch by any means, but a meaningful one, nonetheless.

Grade: B+

Flash Review: here.

I’m Not A Robot

A cute rom-com with a very cute OTP that shares oodles of warm, cracky chemistry. Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin are adorable separately and together, and as a bonus, Chae Soo Bin’s robot alter-ego is sassy and smart in her own way, too. Best of all, both of our leads inject so much heart into their roles, that beyond the cute, Show manages to deliver more than a few poignant, punch-to-the-heart moments too, with some meaningful themes on the side.

Grade: B+

Flash Review: here.

Are You Human Too?

With the right absurdist lens, this show is cracktastic goodness, even in spite of its flaws. Seo Kang Joon is seriously impressive while toggling between his human and robot roles, and demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is definitely much more than a pretty face. Leaps in logic abound, but tight pacing, well-crafted cliffhangers, and a bemused and confused love interest opposite the handsome robot, more than make up for it. Embrace the weird and be entertained, is what I say. 😉

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Beauty Inside

A very well-done rom-com in the tradition of Hallyu, with a fantasy twist. Tropes abound but are generally narratively sound, any angst is relatively short-lived, and some arcs even manage to deliver heart-squeezy poignance of the best kind. Seo Hyun Jin and Lee Min Ki are individually excellent, and also share a very sparky chemistry from start to finish. Plus, the various cameos are impressively pitch perfect too. Good drama comfort food that’s easy to slurp up, like abalone porridge on a sick day.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Lawless Lawyer

Suspension of disbelief is required in large spades, but if you can look beyond the logic leaps and the plot holes, Show is one big, fat rollicking ride. Our villains are mustache-twirling, larger-than-life types that you just love to hate, and our good guys ultimately prevail, after an appropriate number of thrills, spills, fancy car chases and shoot-outs. On top of his usual impressive kickassery, Lee Jun Ki demonstrates a nice layer of restraint in his delivery, which I really enjoyed, and I liked his bickering chemistry with Seo Ye Ji as well.

Grade: B+

Flash Review: here.

My ID is Gangnam Beauty

A relatable and endearing story of growing into your skin and learning to accept and love yourself, packaged as a bright and reasonably cracky campus romance. The acting of our leads leans stiff, but Show is heartfelt enough, that it’s easy to look past the acting limitations. As a bonus, Show manages to touch on more serious topics like unrealistic beauty standards, harassment, and double standards, without losing its breezy touch.

Grade: B

Flash Review: here.

Thirty But Seventeen OST – Just Stay

OKAY, IF IT’S YOUR STYLE/YOU CAN SPARE THE TIME

Suits

The cases in this show aren’t consistently interesting, and I was far from convinced of the loveline for Park Hyung Sik’s character, but I stayed for the simmering bromance between Park Hyung Sik and Jang Dong Gun’s characters. Jang Dong Gun’s stifled smiles to the glint in Park Hyung Sik’s eyes just made my day. Additionally, Show is character- rather than case-driven, which I rather liked.

Grade: B

Flash Review: here.

What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim

A little uneven, and Show’s story is paper-thin, but Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young really are cute together. Amid the lighthearted jokes and cutesy antics, Show manages to serve up some nicely heartfelt moments, which I appreciated. Show also knows to capitalize on its strengths, and presents us with shirtless Park Seo Joon on a regular basis, which is something I found equal parts amusing and squee-worthy.

Grade: B

Flash Review: here.

A Poem A Day

An easy, warm workplace drama that has a bit of a family drama feel thanks to its found-family type of dynamic among the hodgepodge group of characters sharing a work space. Regular voiceovers by a poetry-obsessed Lee Yoo Bi lend a lyrical, thoughtful touch. And, because Show is vague about who is romantic endgame, the thrill of not knowing who would get the girl, was quite a big highlight of my watch.

Grade: B

Flash Review: here.

Fox Bride Star (Where Stars Land)

Another warm workplace drama, this time with a slight fantastical twist in the form of hi-tech bionic limbs. Still, Show manages to be engaging, and I ended up caring more about these characters than I’d expected to. Too much time spent on gangster stuff took away from Show’s appeal, but empathetic leads, a super cute secondary loveline, and a nice variety of human interest stories help to make up for it.

Grade: B

Review: here.

You Drive Me Crazy

This friends-to-lovers mini-series is just 2 hours of screen time total, so it’s good for a quick drama snack for when life’s too busy for a full 16 or 20 episodes. Story’s got a cute premise (she comes to bunk with him when her pipes at home burst, hyper-proximity hijinks ensue), and Show even throws in a very cute hedgehog into the mix. To be honest, though, I only really found the leads likable in Show’s final 10 minutes. Before that, I found both lead characters frustrating and annoying in their own ways (I found her pushy and highly inconsiderate, while I thought he was proud, uncommunicative, and quite the player). I think lots of folks found this one very cute though, so maybe you might, too?

Grade: B-

SHOWS WHICH FEEL SOLIDLY GOOD, BUT WHICH I JUST DIDN’T FINISH

Live

So many people loved this one that I figured I ought to give it a try, even though I wasn’t in the mood for a police/crime type show. I rather enjoyed the first 2 episodes, which covers the backstories of our key characters, and show us why they would be so determined to make it to the police academy, and stay the grueling course, to graduate.

The thing is, I was spooked by the (apparently quite key) story in episode 3, which involves a case where a woman has her tongue cut off. Greargh. There was So. Much. Blood. I couldn’t handle it. I bailed hurriedly, and parked this one for a while. Some weeks later, I cautiously ventured to try episode 3 again, and – again – couldn’t stomach the bloody cut-off tongue thing. That’s when I decided that this show probably isn’t for me. I’m a wuss, can’t deny it.

Lots of folks love this show to bits, though. So you might, too?

SHOWS THAT I LOST INTEREST IN, SOMEHOW

KOREA

Misty

Even though mystery thrillers aren’t my usual thing, I was captivated by Misty for a while. I thought Kim Nam Joo made such a badass female lead, and her strong character – ambitious, sharp, passionate about work, but cold and calculative about people, and impossibly regal and elegant through it all – felt like quite the breath of fresh air, in Dramaland. Plus, Show also serves up the very, very handsome Ji Jin Hee in suits, often wearing wistful gazes. Very nice. Add on a tangled web of a situation building up to implode on itself, and I just couldn’t look away. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion: dreadful, but compelling, at the same time.

BUT. I spoiled myself for the ending, and knowing what I know about the ending, while I was watching, I was convinced, based on a key actor’s expressions, that the ending was not something that writer-nim – or said actor – had known about and actually planned for, from the very beginning. In my head, this meant that the ending was a cop-out; something that writer-nim decided on late in the game, for the shock factor. That was a downer for me, and I found that as a result, I unfortunately promptly lost interest in continuing my watch.

8 episodes in, this one had felt like a potential A, assuming I hadn’t spoiled myself for the ending. My advice? If you’re planning to watch this, maybe don’t spoil yourself for the ending. 😛

Mr. Sunshine

I tried to get into Mr. Sunshine because those who love this show love it a lot. I thought this one was beautifully and very expensively produced, with costuming that looked authentic to the times, and execution that felt cinematic. I also thought the actors were very solid in their deliveries. I liked Lee Byung Hun, Kim Tae Ri, Kim Min Jung and Byun Yo Han well enough, but it was Yoo Yeon Suk, with his tortured samurai vibe, that I found most arresting.

The thing is, I never felt fully pulled into this story, no matter how hard I tried. Some of the logic leaps (particularly in relation to the main loveline) niggled at me; I didn’t find myself particularly interested in the political aspect of our story, on which Show spends a fair bit of screen time; I realized that I wasn’t particularly gripped by these characters and their stories. The slow pace of the overall narrative didn’t help either.

I got 13 episodes into my watch, before I realized that I simply wasn’t looking forward to the next episode. That’s when I wandered off from this one, and haven’t had the inclination to go back, since. I’ve heard that Show gets really, really good from about the episode 19 mark, but.. I don’t know if I have the fortitude to actually get to episode 19.

13 episodes in, this one felt like a potential B or B+ to me. But, just know that lots of viewers consider this one an A.

Witch’s Love

Lots of my Twitter friends seemed to enjoy this one, which is why I decided to give this a try. My initial impression is that this could be a mildly entertaining sort of watch, in a B production sort of way. To my eyes, Hyun Woo didn’t look super convinced that he’s a powerful director, but was trying hard to come across as fierce and prickly, while Yoon So Hee seemed quite pitch-perfect as our sassy young witch looking for love.

Unfortunately, I personally thought the acting in general leaned stiff, the Intended Funny, not that funny, and the narrative, stilted. 4.5 episodes in, I just wasn’t feeling this one, and drifted off with vague intentions of maybe coming back to this one, if I ever find myself in the right mood.

From what I saw, I’d say this one felt like a potential B-.

CHINA

Legend of Yun Xi

There’s a fair amount of cute in this one, at least in the initial to mid episodes. Basically, our frosty male lead prince gets unwillingly betrothed to the cheerful daughter of the Imperial Physician, and can’t help but melt in degrees in the face of his new wife’s persistent warmth. That stuff was fun.

The thing is, this whole show is about poison. Our female lead even uses poison medicinally, so there’s good poison, and there’s bad poison. Show takes that whole poison thing and runs with it, until our entire drama world is All About The Poison, by our second half. I wouldn’t have minded that so much, if Show had remembered to keep serving up OTP goodies along the way. But no. By episode 24 (of this show’s 48), this show had become a lot less fun to watch. By episode 27, I literally couldn’t stay awake through to the end of the episode. Show had become all about poison and politicking, and there was precious little screen time given to the OTP, which I counted as Show’s main draw.

I stopped watching after episode 30, and haven’t gone back since. I’ve heard that if you fast-forward through the poison stuff, that it becomes a much more enjoyable watch. The thing is, at the episode 30 mark, that would’ve meant fast-forwarding through about literally 90% of the episode, which.. didn’t make sense to me.

Based on 30 episodes of screen time, I’d call this a potential C+.

Meteor Garden 2018

I’ve concluded that I’m just not the kind of viewer who can watch remake after remake of the same show. I wasn’t going to watch this one, because I was sure that the J- and K-versions were enough for me. But there was so much spazz and hype over this drama, that the curious cat in me decided I needed to see what the buzz was all about.

Long story short, I surprised myself by really enjoying episode 1 – and then everything slowly slipped downhill from there, for me. I found the show mildly amusing, but nothing to really shout about, and at the episode 4 mark, I drifted off and never quite went back. I also couldn’t see myself sitting through 50(!) whole episodes of this story.

The thing is, though, my sister watched this and loved it. The key difference in our responses to this show, I think, is that this was her first watch of this story, period. Therefore everything felt new and more interesting to her. Plus, she was intrigued enough by this show’s lasting power across boundaries, that she looked up the original manga and read some of it. So part of her enjoyment was comparing this show to the original manga as well.

From what I saw of this iteration, I’d call this a potential B-, maybe. But depending on your viewing history and viewing lens, you might call this an A.

Are You Human Too? OST – Heart

SHOWS THAT I DON’T THINK ARE WORTH THE EFFORT, TO BE BRUTALLY HONEST

KOREA

Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food (Something in the Rain)

Starts out really, really cute, but quickly changes gears into Angst with a capital A. My problem with the angst was, it felt like nothing much came out of all the angst, in the end. Also, by Show’s later stretch, I found that I wasn’t so taken with our male lead after all, and I really, really disliked our female lead. The heavy-handed overuse of the soundtrack didn’t help one bit.

Grade: C

Review: here.

My Husband Oh Jak Doo

Show is cute in concept, not so much in execution. The annoying characters are plenty and often screechy, the cultural tangents on the makings and virtues of the gayageum are long and preachy, the direction is OTT, and worst of all, I don’t think the OTP shares much chemistry (Hey! That all rhymes, ha). Kim Kang Woo being handsome and Jung Sang Hoon being Eric got me to the finish line, but just barely.

Grade: C+

Flash Review: here.

Your House Helper

Show’s got some bright spots in its middle stretch, but overly simplistic resolutions to overly hyped problems and mysterious backstories dragged this one down. The main OTP is also so muted and tepid that I found them decidedly uninteresting and unbelievable. A rather amusing secondary loveline and the various cleaning tips offered up are the mild silver linings in this one.

Grade: C++

Flash Review: here.

Let’s Eat 3

Show’s got a pretty good concept, mixing prequel with sequel by showing us the origin story of Siksya-nim in flashback form, while present-day Dae Young searches to find meaning again, in the midst of his personal and professional slumps. Problem for me was, I thought the pacing was uneven, and the acting, on the muted, halfhearted side of things. I also struggled to warm to Baek Jin Hee in the role. Overall, not terrible, but not great either.

Grade: C+

Flash Review: here.

CHINA

Moonshine and Valentine

Cute concept, with an alien fox prince seeking to get the present incarnation of his human wife to fall in love with him. Unfortunately, the spots of cute were not enough to save this one. Stiff acting, filler galore, narrative inconsistencies and logic leaps, all came together to drag this show down. I loved the regular flashbacks to our OTP’s younger selves – those younger actors legit did a better job than the adult actors, in my books – but even that wasn’t enough to make up for Show’s very underwhelming ending.

Grade: C+

Flash Review: here.

ACTIVELY AVOID, IF YOUR DRAMA TASTE IS LIKE MINE

KOREA

Radio Romance

This one immediately felt formulaic, with a fair amount of stuff looking stagey and try-hard to me. I also found our female lead unreasonably pushy and persistent. Even though that was in service of setting things in place to put our male lead in her orbit, I just found it unacceptable professional behavior. To make things even less appealing, I thought the humor in very poor taste, right away. It didn’t help that everyone was wearing copper hair and orange lips – or that Doo Joon looked like he needed an eye doctor, in literally every scene. I bailed after just 2 episodes.

Dropped post: here.

Bad Guys 2 – City of Evil

Show immediately struck me as trying too hard to be cool. Lots of gratuitous violence, blood & gore, no narrative context, too much dim lighting, and WAY too much shaky camera work made me drop this one like a hot potato, right after episode 1. I mean, that shaky camera work gave me an actual headache. Even the combined appeal of Kim Moo Yul, Joo Jin Mo and Ji Soo weren’t enough to entice me to watch more episodes of this.

Dropped post: here.

The Great Seducer

I was initially intrigued by this one, but Show soon lost its shine to my eyes. There just wasn’t enough narrative logic to hold up this story, and Show couldn’t seem to decide either, whether it wanted to be dark like its source material, or romantic, like most of its Hallyu cousins. All the initial sizzle basically petered out to a fizzle, and I soon found everything either cringey or boring to watch. I lasted 10 regretful episodes of this.

Dropped post: here.

Greasy Melo (Wok of Love)

Basically, Show is very strange, weird and surreal, but Show’s brand of whimsy just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like the Intended Funny, I didn’t take to the leads, I didn’t take to the secondary characters either, and I definitely didn’t take to the voiceovers by the talking horse. I lasted 11 whole episodes of this, which is as far as my Jang Hyuk loyalty could take me.

Dropped post: here.

About Time

To be brutally honest, I dropped this one before I even got to the end of episode 1. I didn’t find either lead character very likable from the get-go, and I didn’t feel much chemistry between them either. In particular, I thought Lee Sang Yoon was overly disdainful and grumpy, which I didn’t like. I could’ve given this one more time to grow on me, but I wasn’t feeling this one pretty much right away, and decided to give it a hard pass. Word on the street is that I made the right choice, with this one.

CHINA

Guardian

There are legions of passionate fans out there, for this show. Reportedly, it’s the simmering, sizzling chemistry between these two actors, and the suggestion-but-never-confirmation of their characters’ mutual attraction, that make this one a cracky watch. I tried 3 episodes of this, but couldn’t see the appeal. I found the story’s fantasy context confusing, the CGI very clunky, everything pretty low-rent, and most important of all, I didn’t see the sizzling chemistry that everyone else saw. I couldn’t talk myself into watching a fourth episode, so that was the end of the road for me, with this one.

JURY’S STILL OUT

KOREA

Terius Behind Me (My Secret Terius)

No cool and edgy spy stuff here. The spy stuff is more amusing and lame than anything else, but that doesn’t matter, because gruff marshmallow So Ji Sub trying to babysit little kidlets is the most precious, funny thing. My heart surges every time the gruff marshmallow leaks a smile.

I’m just 6 episodes in, so it’s early days with this one, but so far it feels like a potential B.

Edit: Flash Review is here.

The Last Empress (An Empress’s Dignity)

A show that revels in how makjang it is, and is never apologetic about any plot holes, logic leaps, or sudden casualties, along the way. With the right lens, this one is quite the entertaining rollercoaster. Just make sure not to think too hard, coz that will just spoil the thrill of the ride.

16 episodes in, this one feels like a potential B++.

Edit: Flash Review is here.

Boyfriend

Most folks seem to love or hate this. I’m liking it in a very moderate sort of fashion. I’m not fully on board yet with the main loveline, but I’m curious to see more. Bogummy‘s very pretty to look at, which is a plus, and I’m waiting in anticipation for him to develop his character with more depth and intensity beyond the clear-eyed, pure-hearted innocence of when we first meet him.

6 episodes in, this is a B, for me.

Edit: Dropped post is here.

Clean With Passion For Now

You really need your manhwa lens on, for this one, coz Show’s idea of humor is a little out there, and the manhwa lens helps to make it more palatable. Be warned that there is a lot of vomit and toilet humor in this, which I guess makes narrative sense since our story takes place in a cleaning company, but which might be a real turn-off for some folks. On the upside, Kim Yoo Jung manages to be cute as a button even when she’s completely disheveled, and Yoon Kyun Sang’s elastic reaction faces are gold. I haven’t decided yet whether this is a keeper, for me. Sometimes I want to bail, like, immediately, and sometimes, I think this show is pretty cute. It all depends on what Show is serving up at any given moment.

4 episodes in, this feels like a potential B- or C, depending on how Show eventually leans.

SKY Castle

Intriguing, right off the bat. Show gives us a beyond-the-shiny-surface look at the twisted lives that the rich and privileged lead, and how the frenemies compete with one another, particularly when it comes to getting their children into the best schools. I find this a compelling watch, but also, I feel like I seriously need to detox after an episode, with lighter, happier things.

3 episodes in, I feel like this could be a potential A-.

Edit: Review is here.

Fates and Furies

I’m so pleasantly surprised with this show, you guys. I immediately find this one engaging; I like the premise (which Show manages to make believable, narratively), I like the chemistry between Joo Sang Wook and Lee Min Jung, and I’ve consistently wanted to see more, after an episode. I even rather like Show’s slightly theatrical flair. All very promising things.

4 episodes in, this feels like a potential A-.

Edit: Flash Review is here.

CHINA

Imagine Me Without You

This reminds me of Japanese drama 1 Litre of Tears, because it’s based on a true story, about a girl who has a terminal condition, but who is determined to live her best life, with whatever time she has left. Beautifully directed, with gorgeous cinematography and vivid colors, everything looks and feels raw and real. Episode 1 already had my heart pinching for these characters, whom I was constantly reminded are actual, real people. I’m told it’s a somewhat uneven ride over the entire series, but it’s refreshingly different, and worth a look, if you are able to manage without English subs. On the upside, the Mandarin is relatively simple.

2 episodes in, this feels like a potential A-.

You can find it on YouTube, in HD. Episode 1 is here.

Our Youth

This one has flown under the radar for a lot of folks, most probably because English subs aren’t available. Sobs. But if you can manage without subs, I really recommend this one. This is China’s take on Answer Me, 1988 – and it’s really well done. It’s not a remake per se, because you don’t find similarities character for character across the shows, but it’s definitely got the AM1988 vibe, with neighborhood friends who’ve known one another for forever, families who feed one another and share a strong sense of community, plus crushes blooming in various corners of our neighborhood. This also feels authentic to the times; a great peek into what China was like, in the 80’s.

40 episodes sounds long, but if you add up the screen time, it’s literally about the same length as AM1988.

6 episodes in, this feels like a solid A.

You can find it on YouTube, in HD. Episode 1 is here.

When We Were Young 2018

A nostalgic, warm, slice-of-life, coming-of-age little drama that legit feels like a younger, slightly less polished cousin to 2017’s well-loved A Love So Beautiful. I wish I found our female lead a little more immediately endearing, but overall, these characters are really growing on me. Also, things get suitably amped up once all the burgeoning crushes, hormones and feeelings come into play. This isn’t crack for me (yet?), but I do look forward to each episode.

8 episodes in, this feels like a potential B+.

Edit: Flash Review is here.

2018/2019 SHOWS STILL ON MY LIST

KOREA

Memories of the Alhambra There is so much hype over this one, that I feel like I need to see what the fuss is about, for myself. I’ve also heard this one is compelling and twisty, so I’m saving up for a bit of a marathon – just in case I get super sucked in.

Edit: Flash Review is here.

Top Star Yoo Baek Kim Ji Suk playing a vain egotistical top star, who needs to suck it up in the countryside where no one cares who he is? Snerk. This sounds potentially hilarious and heartwarming.

Children of Nobody (Red Moon, Blue Sun) So many people are raving about this one that I think I need to check it out, even though I’m not usually one for mystery-thrillers.

My Strange Hero I have a big ol’ soft spot for Yoo Seung Ho, so I feel like I need to check this out, even though I’m rather bemused at this show’s premise.

Dance Sports Girls This high-school drama about dance dreams sounds like just my kind of show. I’m saving this for when I finish the current youth dramas on my plate.

Dae Jang Geum is Watching I’m told this has a similar vibe to the Let’s Eat dramas, with quirky characters loving and eating food. I’m intrigued. And hopeful.

Twelve Nights Several of you have mentioned that this one feels quite special, so I’m duly curious to check it out, especially now that it’s pretty much at the end of its run.

CHINA

Suddenly This Summer Coming-of-age, slice-of-life drama, well-acted, and with lashings of nostalgia, to boot? This sounds right up my drama street. Plus, the whispers that this one is under-appreciated just makes me want to root for the underdog.

Like a Flowing River This one is reportedly the top Chinese drama on TV and online at the moment. Color me duly curious. I took a tiny peek at episode 1, and this does look like a quality production. Plus, it’s available on YouTube, in HD, with subs! Whoop!

The Story of Minglan I am intimidated by Show’s 76 episodes, for sure. I usually stay far away from period shows above the 60-episode mark. But.. this comes from the makers of the absolutely amazing Nirvana in Fire, so I think I need to give it a toe-dip, at least.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

You can’t see my eye bags from over there, can you? 😛

Woof. That was a lot of dramas. I’m not even sure how I managed to check out so many shows this year. I just did a count, and I talked about – gasp! – 45 dramas in this post! That’s not bad at all, considering that I had fewer drama hours to spend over the several months that I was moving house earlier in the year, and that I also went through a bit of a drama rut for a month.

I’ve heard some folks remark that 2018 was a meh drama year for them, but I personally felt like I had a very solid drama year, all things considered. Not only did I find 6 dramas that I felt were solid As that I loved, I also enjoyed a good number of other ones very well, too. Yes, there were duds, but I feel the good outweighed the bad, and I didn’t finish too many of the stinkers.

Thanks for sticking with me through another year, you guys. Your company makes the journey so much more fun and meaningful. Here’s to another great drama year for us all, in 2019.

Saranghae~ ❤

Author: kfangurl

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

180 thoughts on “Year In Review: 2018

  1. Ahh! What a year it has been! Just like you, I didn’t have much time this year and thus I DNF most of the ones I started or at least had an interest in in the beginning of the year. I started watching My Huckleberry Friends and had to leave it at about the episode 7 mark. I started watching Mr Sunshine but could not go through it as the ending was spoiled to me. Same was the case with Terrius Behind Me.

    I saw some clips of The Great Seducer online and felt intrigued, but stopped at ep 10. Saw Attention, Love and had lukewarm feelings about it. I’m considering watching When We Were Young. After your post, I want to watch Our Youth as well, because out of all the Answer Me series, Answer me 1988 has been my favourite.

    However there were quite a lot of good dramas this year like I’m Not A Robot, My Ahjushhu.

    Hopefully, next year serves up some more yummy and cracktastic dramas. I desperately need another You Who Came From The Stars and Healer at this point of time.
    Cheerios!
    Much Love,
    Avi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there Avi! What a year, indeed! Sorry you didn’t have much time for dramas this year.. hopefully next year will be better! 🙂

      I paused My Huckleberry Friends after E5.. It just felt like Show was getting much heavier than what I signed up for. 😛 When We Were Young 2018 is really not bad. Not as cracky as ALSB, but definitely has very similar feel-good vibes. 🙂 And Our Youth really does give off AM1988 vibes. Since your favorite was AM1988, then I think you should definitely give Our Youth a try. It takes a little while to settle coz there are quite a few characters in this drama world, but that’s not dissimilar to AM88. I personally am glad I stuck around enough to get to know the characters. So far, I’m enjoying that one very well. Hopefully that will brighten up your drama world a little bit, as you go into 2019! 🙂

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      • I felt the same way about My Huckleberry Friends, it was getting very mellow, when I had hoped for a light ALSB kind of coming of age story. :,)

        I’ll definitely give Our Youth a chance. People have been raving about Mama Fairy and The Woodcutter and The Last Empress too, so I think I’ll give them a go too.

        By the way, did you hear about the Ten Miles Of Peach blossom sequel?!

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        • Aw, if you’re looking for a show that feels similar to ALSB, then I do suggest giving When We Were Young 2018 a try. It has a very similar vibe, but the story and characters are different enough to feel like its own show. 🙂 And yes, do give Our Youth a try, I hope you like it!

          I haven’t checked out Mama Fairy, but I am enjoying Last Empress pretty well. It’s crazy and ridiculous – which is what makes it fun. 😉 As for the Peaches sequel, yes, I heard about it. I believe it’s focusing on the loveline between Feng Jiu and Di Jun, which was not my favorite thing about Peaches. So I’ll likely check it out just to see, but I’m not keeping my hopes too high 😅

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  2. Prison Playbook and My mister are the best dramas of this year for me(from start to the end.) I also enjoyed Thirty but seventeen and Gangnam beauty. We have similar taste so I can see all the dramas I disliked and dropped here in same categories. I have been waiting for this post. I like your grading system it fits in perfectly and I can’t disagree with the grades even if I enjoyed the drama overall like gangan beauty although it might be 10/10 for me when I watched it but when I look back I know why it would get a B. I need to check out our youth now. I Haven’t watched any Japanese and Taiwanse dramas/movies this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thanks for waiting for this post! Makes me feel all special and important 😘 And yes, it does seem like we have pretty similar tastes in dramas! I’m really settling nicely into Our Youth, so if your drama taste is as similar to mine as we think, then I’m pretty hopeful that you’ll end up enjoying it too 🙂 I haven’t watched any J or TW dramas this year either, though I think I did catch at least a J movie or two, while inflight. I find that I just don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with so many drama scenes. The K scene is exploding with so many dramas, and I find that the C scene also produces them at a very fast rate! So I’m focusing just on these two, for now. 😅

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  3. Oh my what a breathtaking list. Thank you! We. Are. Not. Worthy !!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for another amazing post! 💕💕💕Was waiting for your review so I’d know exactly what gems to pick. ^_^ I’ve got to start Money Flower since you always seem to shower love especially since I consider it underrated as not many people have watched or mentioned it.

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Andy – and thanks for waiting for it too! It really makes me feel important and special and useful, heh. 😉 I hope you found it worth the wait! And YES, please do give Money Flower a chance. I thought I wouldn’t ever meet a revenge melo that I would like, but I LOVED Money Flower. It’s pretty special ❤ I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

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  5. Thank you, Fangirl, for another wonderful year-end summation. I know I will continue to refer to it throughout the year when picking what to watch next!

    My Ahjussi was it for me, and the writer now owns two spots in my top five, as Oh Hae Young Again is there as well. The other perfect drama I saw this year was a jdrama that just wrapped up, Chugaku Sei Nikki. Weirdly enough, I compare it to My Ahjussi in that it is much more than its description! Otherwise Just Between Lovers and Woohoo Waikiki round out my memorable viewings from 2018.

    I wish you a surfeit of excellent dramas to watch in 2019!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Aw, that makes me glad, Mary, to know that this will be a useful resource for you! ❤

      Yes, My Ahjusshi was just wonderful, and I loved Oh Hae Young Again as well! I need to keep an eye out for this writer's works! I've added Chugaku Sei Nikki to my list, for when I'm ready for a J-drama. Right now I feel like I've got more than I can handle, exploring K and C drama waters! 😅 Indeed, here's to a new year filled with excellent dramas to watch, wonderful friends to share them with, and lots of fun through it all! 😘

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      • Happy New Year to you as well! I am so very grateful for you and the online community of drama friends here.❤❤ It is hard to believe I’m sneaking up on four years as a kdrama fanatic!

        In the spirit of keeping an open mind I’m watching Pretty Noona since it was a top pick of the korean film industry after Mr Sunshine and My Ahjussi. I will try Money Flower based on your rec, and then I will close the book on 2018!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hee. Time flies when you’re having fun, especially with friends? 😀 I can hardly believe how fast time has flown by. Has it been almost 12 years since I got sucked in by Goong??? 😱 It really doesn’t feel like so much time has gone by! But, it’s been so much fun sharing drama love with everyone online, as you said. I’m grateful to have you guys to share the journey with me too. ❤

          I personally got very upset with Pretty Noona by its second half, so fair warning that it has been known to induce rage-watching 😛 Money Flower, on the other hand, is 😍😍😍. So Good! I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

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  6. Ah. But for us historical drama fans, it has been the years of drought and meager harvests.
    At least we can skip the anxiety of too many choices and also we get some time over to catch up with some old gems we might have missed. Let’s see how this goes.

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    • Any good recommendations for classic historical dramas? Time travel is OK too.

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      • Well, apart from the usual suspects you see on lists (Empress Ki, Six Flying Dragons, Jumong etc), I do have some favorites.
        The Great Ambition, an early Jang Hyuk saguk, very sweet
        Hong Gil Dong from 2008, Amazing balance between comedy and tragedy (not everybody agrees though)
        Sword and Flower, set in Goguryeo and a typical hero’s journey but with a female lead and also very beautiful
        Secret Investigation Record, on which I would need a whole article, one of the best things I’ve ever seen
        Secret Door, heavy in politics, so it’s good if you like that
        Strongest Chil Woo, a low-budget, honest, fun folk hero tale with an actually good story
        Ja Myung Go, amazing characters, lovely production, engaging story. Unfortunately it was cut short due to bad ratings and the ending is a hasty wrap-it-up, still manages to be one of the best historical dramas in my book though.
        Live up to your Name, best time travel ever for me.
        I’ve also just finished the King Loves, which I enjoyed immensely.
        I don’t know if you can call those ”classic” but they are my favorites. I think you mention already having watched Chuno, so I don’t have to take that up.
        What are some of your favorite dramas?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have mentioned Damo and Conspiracy in the Court. I also liked Tree with Deep Roots and Six Flying Dragons. I have seen Jumong, Kingdom of the Wind, Painter of the Wind, Ja Myung Go, and Hwang Jin Yi. Also Queen Seon Deok. I have not seen Empress Ki or Live Up to Your Name, but I am very interested. There are some lighthearted historical dramas which I liked a lot, like Tamra the Island and SSK Scandal, also Moonlight Drawn by Clouds. I started Gunman in Joseon, but could not finish. Same thing for Return of Iljimae. I found it too episodic, each episode telling a separate story, and I did not like that. I am also interested in Emperor of the Sea, but no legal streaming service seems to have it.

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      • Not OP but I’d like to suggest Iljimae if you’re in for a robin-hood like adventure. Relatively short too compared to other sageuks.

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        • We have two versions of Iljimae from that season and the opinions are divided as to which one is the best. Personally, I prefer Return of Iljimae, because I think that a lot of artistry was put into it, not just craft. But my absolute favorite 2008 folk hero is Hong Gil Dong, I just love that thing so much ^_^

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    • Now that you mention it, that’s true.. there weren’t many sageuks this year. Do you also care for Chinese historicals? Because there was a lot more to choose from, among the Chinese historicals this year. The Story of Yanxi Palace, and the Legend of Ruyi took the C-drama watching world by storm, I think. Personally, I thought Nirvana in Fire 2 was very good as well. For something a little more recent, Like A Flowing River is doing fantastic in China right now, and it looks to be a solid piece about that period of history. I hope that helps at least a little. Best wishes in the new year to ya, Yllejord! ❤

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      • I am seriously considering branching out to Chinese dramas. I know that you recommended Nirvana on Fire. Another friend also spoke highly of it. I heard good things about Yanxi Palace too. I like historical dramas because they are populated by long haired sword wielding (anti)heroes in search of redemption. So if the Chinese dramas have that trope, I am on board! Otherwise, I will rewatch Chuno for the 7th (or maybe 8th?) time. Not that I am complaining…

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        • Ooh, yes, branch out, Snow Flower! Not all Chinese period dramas are good, but when they are good, they are really good. I count Nirvana In Fire as THE best drama I’ve seen to date, across countries. ❤ If you're open to some period fantasy, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms has a truly EPIC romance at its center. And yes, there's fighting too. 😉 Just bear in mind the first little bit can be a slow burn. I wasn't super open to Chinese fantasy at the time, but I got duly sucked into Peaches and fell in love as everyone else said I would.

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          • Lol, ”beautiful, long-haired people with swords” is how I justify my love for saguks (unless I feel fancy, then I throw Aristotle’s definition of tragedy around; I’m Greek, we learned that at school, so happy I get to use it now).
            Kfangurl, I grew up watching chinese (and Hong Kong) wuxia films, so I’m not totally impossible. It’s just that… I don’t know how to put it, but I find the korean dramas more ”human”? ”Grounded”? The characters resonate with me in a deeper level, for some reason. I think this might be because of small differences in screen writing and acting that developed in the two scenes as they evolved.
            Anyway, I’ve seen some lists of upcoming dramas and it seems as if some nice rain clouds might be gathering on the horizon. Let’s wait and see.
            A very happy new year to you both ❤

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            • Ooh, that’s interesting, that you grew up watching wuxia films! 🙂 I watched several when I was younger; I was never a full-on wuxia passion-head though I did have a soft spot for the Once Upon a Time in China films ❤ Every time one came out, I had to go see it! 😉

              Yay that you see some potential good dramas on your horizon, that's always a happy thing! 😀 If you haven't seen Chinese drama Nirvana in Fire, I highly, highly recommend it. It's excellent in so many ways, I've mentally ranked it as the best drama I've seen across countries and genres, period. So.. I feel like if there's any drama that might sway your heart to give Chinese dramas another chance, Nirvana in Fire would be it. And yes, there are beautiful, long-haired people with swords in that drama world too 😉

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              • Well, what was I to do, western movies were not giving me sufficient amounts of beautiful long-haired sword wielders and besides, I really love me some good old tragedy. I don’t find those ”hero beats bad guy, gets girl, the peasants rejoice” happy endings particularly satisfying. So wuxia it was. Much nicer swordfights, too.

                Oh I’ve watched NIF and loved it. Like, A Lot. But then I watched Six Flying Dragons and it just hit me in the gut, what can I do. I’ll definitely watch NIF 2 at some point, of course.

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                • Oh, I’m glad you watched and loved NIF, Yllejord! 😀 That one is a must-see, in my books. ❤ NIF2 is a much slower burn, but for me, it was totally worth hanging in there, even when it felt slow. The emotional payoff was rich, and felt organic, and was so well delivered. I hope you'll find it worth the journey, when you do get to it! ❤

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                • Oh, Six Flying Dragons! The long haired sword wielding conflicted hero also sings!

                  Liked by 1 person

            • Ha! Yllejord, I also thought about Aristotle’s definition of tragedy in connection to kdramas! For me, Damo is a classic example of Greek tragedy. As bad as our main characters’ circumstances are, it is their personal flaws (jealousy, rashness, etc.) that lead to their demise. But the ending is very catharctic too! At least they are no longer suffering…

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    • Ah yes, since you mentioned it, I think hard and found that I watched no sageuk whatsoever in 2018, and it is not good. Not good at all! I was a bit lucky then that tvN in my country aired a rerun of Live Up to Your Name on the very last 8 weeks of December so I got something to soothe the longing, although we might say that it was only HALF sageuk, to be precise. Good thing that I LOOOOOOOVEEEE it. It was super annoying for the few first episodes, because Kim Nam Gil choose to act comically on his character, but by the end of the series, he became the true Dr. Heo Im he was supposed to be. And Kim Nam Gil as the bright actor I fell head over heel on Queen Seondeok. I’d say a really nice wrap up for a year of drought in sageuk, nonetheless. Oh and I mention this drama specifically because kfangurl had this on her list for last year’s review but I don’t know if she had time to watch it hehe…

      Anyway, happy new year for you, kfangurl, and everyone dropping by! Hope 2019 brings more great sageuk to quench our thirst for long-haired, sword-swinging, eloquent-speaking hero and heroine of korean glorious past…..

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      • Yes to every word, Widya.
        Apart from everything else, I liked how Live up to your Name handled the freaking out of time travel. The scene when the female lead comes back to the present, finds herself lying on the ground and cries out ”asphalt!” lovingly, still sticks with me.
        Also, time travel dramas, where the same people appear in both modern and historical looks, always make me realize what a shallow person I am. ”No, not the modern day make-over, what are you doing, throw away that suit, more wigs, swords and synthetic silk robes, please”.

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        • Ahahaha…. you are so very me when I saw Kim Nam Gil sported his modern day suit as Heo Bong Tak. I guessed he was supposed to look flashy when he entered the conference room, but I was like “Noooooo……. give me back Joseon’s Heo Im puhleeeezzzz….”. Yeah, me so shallow 😛

          For me, this show is one among a very few that gets better and better toward the end. And it reached its climax not with a loud bang, but a soft glimmer of revelation that somehow steal our heart. To be the one you are supposed to be. To be with someone you are destined to be. I was actually ready to have them part ways forever in the end, as sageuk can be very cruel at times and I am totally ready for that, so I was a bit disappointed with the ending (Yeah, I torture myself as a hobby hahaha). The ending is too cute to be true for my taste, but still, this one Show works really well for me!

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  7. What a great post, you outdid yourself on the drama front! Not just watching, but writing these reviews. And you’ve already got a full plate with your work and all on top of that.

    I let dramas take a back seat. I only completed about 10. I’ve gotten more picky in my old drama age. lol. Losing Drama Fever didn’t help, i get nerve pains from sitting too long and I’m getting tired of watching everything off my laptop because my TV doesn’t have certain apps. I need to get the Roku. Something I say every year. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thank you my dear.. I think I’m getting into an easier groove when it comes to writing the reviews, so it doesn’t take me nearly as long as it used to. That helps heaps! Otherwise, we’d be back to what I was doing in 2013, with monster reviews taking me up to a week to complete at a time, and therefore very few reviews coming out over the entire year! 😅 I guess pegging at this for as long as I have, does have its advantages? 😆

      Yeah, I’m sure losing DF was a big spanner in the works.. I understand that some shows were only available on DF, like Beauty Inside, and that just left lots of people hanging indefinitely. That’s a bummer. I hope you find a more comfortable and enjoyable way to watch your dramas next year, so that you’ll have a better time. Here’s wishing you a great year filled with good dramas, lots of inspiration – and time to explore those inspirations, excellent health (including strong knees!), and lots of happy things all-around! ❤

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  8. Since I’ve started reading your blog this year, I’ve figured out that, like any good Venn diagram, your tastes and mine overlap, but I definitely have more positive opinions on several dramas you had lower ratings on, but I can trust if you really like something, I will too. I did finish Live and it was the best drama of the year for me. I’m going to finish Mr. Sunshine too (lack 2 episodes) and this was probably the most visually stunning show this year, but I’m like you, the story was just not pulling me into it. I’m impressed with everything about it, but it just doesn’t engage me. I whole heartedly agree with your assessment of Pretty Noona, just not worth the effort. However, both Radio Romance abs Let’s Eat 3 were worth the time I spent with them—but that just could be because I have a swishy spot for Yoon Doo-joon’s affability. Prison Playbook would have been better if the episodes weren’t so long. I felt that there was too much dialog at times and I kept looking at the time until the episode ended. It also took me 5 months to finish it. But I did love the characters. I was watching LIVE at the same time as this one, so seeing the dichotomy of law enforcement in that one vs criminals in this one was really interesting for me. My family has also been bitten by the cdrama bug this year. The Legend of Fuyao was a favorite of my husband’s. I don’t think you mentioned it. Ethan Ryan (Juan) and Yang Mi have the best chemistry of any couple I’ve seen. She reminded me so much of Audrey Hepburn I’m this. Anyway, I know you probably don’t have the time, but I think it was worth the gajillion episodes. Thanks for your reviews! I really enjoy your writing!

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    • Aw, thanks for the kind words Ally! ❤ I'm so glad that you're enjoying the reviews! It's been a pleasure having you join my little corner of the interwebs! 😀

      It does sound like we have pretty similar drama tastes, even though you do seem to be more generous with your drama love than I am. 😅 I guess after watching dramas for a long time (11 years now, eep), I've become more critical and demanding of my dramas. 😛 I try to keep a reasonable balance between my more critical lens, and my kinder forgiving lens, but even then, some shows just don't resonate with me the way I wish they would. I'm glad you enjoyed Radio Romance and Let's Eat 3, though. I do have a big soft spot for Doo Joon, and I'd like to think that where I wasn't able to give him love and support, you more than made up for it! 😉

      Thanks for the recommendation on Legend of Fuyao. I did try an episode, and liked it well enough. I didn't continue because I had another Chinese period drama on my plate at the time, and didn't feel able to accommodate one more. I might try it again, just to see. 🙂

      It's been great getting to know you this year, I'm looking forward to more drama chats with you next year! May 2019 bring us many more lovely dramas to enjoy! ❤

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  9. I have seen every k drama on your A list, except Life on Mars and 30 but 17. Life on Mars is not legally available where I live (sigh), but 30 but 17 is definitely on my list. I liked Mr. Sunshine a lot. I agree that there was a slow stretch in the middle. The politics did not bother me, because I like political intrigue in my romance. The last couple of episodes are magnificent. I mentioned before that many dramas have this operatic quality that require the viewer to suspend disbelief, ignore the occasional flaws in logic, and just surrender to the emotions. Mr. Sunshine definitely fits in this category. The acting was excellent overall. The characters played by Yoo Yeon Seok and Byun Yo Han broke my heart…

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    • Yay that you’ve seen most of my top picks for the year, Snow Flower! 🙂 And also, yay that you’re putting 30 but 17 on your list. It’s such a sweet little show. ❤ Hopefully Life On Mars will become available to you soonish, so that you can check that out too! 🙂

      Yes, I remember that you loved Mr. Sunshine, I remember you mentioned that it was really hard to get over this show. Which is why I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to enjoy it like you did. I'm coming to the conclusion that with Mr. Sunshine, you either love it or you don't; if you don't instinctively take to it from the beginning, no amount of effort down the road will make you love it. Unfortunately for me, I didn't love it instinctively, so I'm here in my own corner, not having the same amazing love affair with this show as most people are. 😐

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      • Kfangurl,

        It is perfectly fine that you did not enjoy Mr. Sunshine as much as I did. I am amazed that the dramas offer so much variety of genres and stories. There is literally something for everyone. I am happy that I tried many different dramas this year and was surprised that I enjoyed dramas that I never thought I would enjoy (Prison Playbook is a good example). I hope that 2019 is a good year for dramas!

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        • That’s true.. there’s been a nice range of shows out this year, and I also ended up loving shows I didn’t expect to. Like My Mister, and Money Flower. It’s encouraging me to dip my toes into genres that I wouldn’t usually reach for. 🙂

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  10. Happy New Year my dear. Thank you for another wonderful year end post. I have a lot of viewing to catch up on. I have struggled in my viewing this year. Walked away from more shows than ever before. Went through more viewing droughts than before. I have really struggled to keep up my enthusiasm for dramas. It has been 13 years since I fell down the K-drama rabbit hole so I find it sad that I am getting so little joy out of them these days but I am hopeful because I know that you and I have similar tastes in dramas and I have seen VERY little of the list of shows that you clearly loved so I am eager to give them a try. I also. Appreciate you letting us know about your viewing woes as it makes me feel less alone in my viewing slump.

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    • Amy! ❤ Happy new year to you too! ❤ I'm sorry you've had a slumpy drama year. I feel you on that; it must be quite a bummer. :/ I realize you got on the K-train before I did, by 2 years! What was your gateway drama, may I ask? Was it Winter Sonata? That was THE craze back in the day. My mom watched it multiple times, she just loved Bae Yong Jun so much. 😆

      Indeed, I find that the longer you've been watching dramas, the harder it becomes, to find dramas to love. After seeing a trope a hundred times, you just have less patience for it. And unfortunately, the k-ent industry is putting out a whole bunch of dramas that feel like they were strung together by their tropes, purely in service of getting a slice of the ratings pie. In that sense, there's a lot more riffraff to sift through, to get to the good stuff. So I do hope that this post will point you towards some shows that you will really like. 🙂

      Another thing that I've found refreshing, is dipping my toes into Chinese dramas. The production values are really good now, and the approach to storytelling is different enough, to feel like something fresh. And yet, the drama format is similar enough, to give you that sense of comfort and familiarity. If you're looking for a quality drama made with elegance for a mature audience, I highly recommend The First Half Of My Life (my review here). It was a huge hit in China when it came out, and I LOVED it. It’s very special, because it feels so elegant and sophisticated in its entirety. I feel like it could possibly perk up your drama world, and give you confidence that there are more good dramas out there 😉

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  11. Oh I was going to recommend 1 Litre of Tears for you to review. I guessed you must have watched it a long time back but if you ever had the time, it would be an interesting one to review and for people to comment on. I really like reading your reviews on k/j/c dramas, hoping to continue doing so in 2019!

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    • Hi there nneess! Thanks for enjoying the reviews! 😀 You’re right, I watched 1 Litre of Tears a long time ago; way before I started blogging, which is why there isn’t a review for it on the blog. I’m unlikely to revisit it because I’m so distracted by all the new shows coming out, but I do think that one is a classic. Well worth the time, in spite of the tears. ❤

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  12. Since I have a soft spot for historical drama, I would like to add another comment about Mr. Sunshine. I was drawn to the political stuff because it reminded me of my own country’s tragic history.

    I have to say that sometimes Logical Me and Emotional Me were in conflict while watching the show. Here is an example:
    SPOILER AHEAD!!!

    Logical Me: “Gu Dong Mae got killed off again? And what are the odds of him returning to Korea on the exact same day Hina decided to blow up her hotel?”

    Emotional Me: “Gu Dong Mae is alive! Yay! And he looks even more handsome with messy hair and shabby clothes! And his timing was perfect, because he and Hina saw each other before she died in his arms while confessing her undying love for him.”

    END OF SPOILER

    I still highly recommend the show to everyone who likes period drama.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. The quintessential year end review Kfangurl 🎉🎈🎉 I don’t know how you do it, but you have delivered a wonderful and generous summation as always.

    My stats show that I tend to drop 1 in 4 shows and 1 in 50 movies. My finger keeps hovering over the dropped button for The Last Empress, but it sucks me back in every week. JNR is starting to shine, however, my favourite moments are between Princess Soo Jin and Wang Shik – she hams up their scenes so well and his interaction with her are delightful, despite where things are heading 😜

    Across the nations, for me, My Ahjussi takes out the Kdrama of the year (even the decade) 🤩 In terms of Chinese dramas it is Moonshine and Valentine despite the woeful ending. My favourite Japanese drama was BG: The Bodyguard. Then there was Bpoop Phaeh Saniwaat from Thailand – an exceptional historical drama (you would almost need to do a double take because it is so not a Lakorn). Finally, there is the Taiwanese time shifting drama: Meet Me @1006. This is the type of drama the Taiwanese do very well.

    The special mentions for me are Mr Sunshine and Money Flower along with Marry Me Now (Shall We Live Together). Misty was awesome until the ending (but others thought it was fitting). The disappointments are Life, About Time and Heart Surgeons 😂

    In terms of going forward, I can say, Memories of Alhambra is one to watch. It is clever, thought provoking and engaging while underpinned by a slow burn romance. Fates and Furies has a bit of class about it and our lead pair are amazing yet again. 12 Nights started so well, but now is treading water. As for Top Star – I survived one episode 😱 Then there is Emily’s Mission from Taiwan – a light, fate message in the bottle, drama with a delightful airhead who has a life to match. I will be watching The Story of Minglan 🤗

    I’m looking forward to 2019, but, for me 2018 will be a hard act to follow. I think I watched way too many dramas hence my comment – there were many more little gems that happened throughout the year 🤔

    As the Irish say, your reviews are worth waiting for: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, And rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand … 😊

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    • AWW! What a wonderfully eloquent and meaningful set of wishes, for 2019! ❤ I wish the very same wonderful things for you, in 2019! Heartfelt thank yous, and big hugs to ya – thanks for being such a wonderful presence on the blog, I always enjoy reading your views and thoughts! 😀

      Also, thanks for enjoying this post! It's out earlier than I'd planned, actually. I usually sit down around New Year's eve or thereabouts, and write this post in a single sitting. But this year, on a whim, I started chipping away at it early, and each time I'd think, "Oh, I'll just write a couple of entries for a couple of shows" and before I knew it, I was so close to being ready to post, that I thought I'd just post it early this year. Which has turned out to be a happy thing, coz I realize it's quite liberating, to have it out early! 😄

      I'm not caught up on Last Empress yet, but so far it's been a solidly enjoyable ride. I just need to keep that makjang-hairflip lens on, and I'm good. 😉 Also, YES, I'm enjoying Fates and Furies way more than I expected to! To be honest, I checked it out purely on the strength of your recommendation. Somehow I'd had it in my head that it was a super long melodrama, and didn't actually bother checking it out since I don't usually check out the weekenders. But it ISN'T a super long show, and it's actually enjoyable! I'm so glad you mentioned it! Thanks for that! 🙂

      Bummer that 12 Nights is treading water.. I haven't actually started on it, and now I'm wondering whether I should save those drama hours for other shows. 🤔 I've heard some good reactions to Yoo Baek, so I'll still give it a try, despite your bad experience! 😛

      Indeed, 2018 has been quite an excellent drama year.. hopefully 2019 will bring just as many gems to us! 😀

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      • So, I have started watching Minglan 🤩 The first four episodes were exceptional and set the story up quite well. Episode 5 is good, but as a transition episode from being kids to young adults, it didn’t quite work for me (although the scene itself re the transition is very good). I found the young adult female characters interesting, but the male characters a bit lacking. For instance, Minglan uses the Wisdom of Solomon to great effect in episode 5 (thus forgetting that she shouldn’t stand out). The young men on the otherhand seem a bit foppish and scatter brained (they were much better characters when they were kids), although I appreciate this is how they play the game so they don’t stand out and be seen as a threat. However, I am being very, very picky here. Overall, I like the natural feel of Minglan. It has even made me drop Yanxi – which drew me in initially and I really liked but felt it was becoming a bit repetitive 😊

        Well, we are off to see Aquaman today. Linda suggested this to the youngest, but I know it’s because she wants to see Jason Mamoa in action 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ooh, I’m excited to hear that you loved the initial eps of Minglan! 😀 I haven’t started on it myself, so it’s just really nice to have some positive comments to assure myself that it’s gonna be good 😉 I can totally imagine you dropping Yanxi for Minglan (that sentence just made it sound like you changed girlfriends, oops! 😆). I personally am not into harem dramas, and as someone else said, there are really only so many ways that one concubine can plot to kill another. 😂 Minglan looks to be more like your kind of show, so I’m glad that’s working out so far! 😀

          I giggled at the Aquaman thing; I saw a meme on Facebook that basically stated that all the Moms would volunteer to take their kids to see Aquaman – for Jason Mamoa..! And here it is, unfolding in real life! 🤣🤣 I hope the movie’s good tho! 😉

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          • I’m still chuckling over your comments kfangurl 🤣 We have been Jason M fans for a long time and he did well as Aquaman. My better half afterwards commented she really liked it. Aquaman was 6/10 for me. Then around the dinner table tonight Linda said to our daughter “you would have really enjoyed it.” To which the response from Savannah was a very skeptical film makers expression. Then No 1 son says to No 2 son “the reason I swapped places when we moved seats in the cinema was so that I wouldn’t hear Mum say every five minutes – gee he’s hot.” I just rolled my eyes 🤪

            As far as the superhero genre goes, Wonder Woman as a movie, is very hard to beat 🤩

            My favourite historical Chinese drama is Lu Zhen (which made me a Zanilia fan – but I dropped her last drama Our Glamorous Time). My overall favourite historical drama of any type though is The Last Kingdom, so Saxons vs Vikings with not a single harem in sight 😂

            I am looking forward to another 1 – 4 eps of Minglan tomorrow. So, I should get these in before anyone gets up. Then there is the latest instalment of Fates and Furies of course 🤗

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            • Lol. Your family has such a healthy dynamic, I love it. I’m just gonna say, I don’t think all men would’ve been as gracious as you, just rolling your eyes to the swoon. 😉 And yes, I did enjoy Wonder Woman very much, even though I’m no expert on superhero movies. ❤

              I haven't seen The Last Kingdom, but I giggled at the thought of potential harems among the Saxons and the Vikings! 🤣🤣 I'm waiting a bit before I start Minglan.. I feel like my drama plate is too full right now to accommodate any more shows 😛 But I'm happy to hear that you're looking forward to new eps of Minglan – that's always a very positive sign! 😀

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    • @seankfletcher – I also really loved Meet Me @1006! I think it may be my favorite time travel drama to date. It was done so well! Glad to see it mentioned.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you ☺️ Meet Me @1006 had so many wonderful elements to it. I liked how this show embraced the time travel conundrums and put its own spin on things. For instance, the merger of “their” apartment from the different timelines was great fun and very refreshing. Those moments where he initially turned up unexpectedly or where she would get stuck into his precious wine collection and then be worried about him finding her stuff everywhere were entertaining 😂

        In otherwords, the lead pair were fabulous together. I think the scene on the stairwell between the two regarding KZY’s confession to Nikki is as good as you will get in any drama. As for Lego Lee’s ability to play both his current self and past self, he did a marvellous job. I loved how his current self didn’t even like his old self. Then with the major cliff hangar, that kept everyone talking and speculating for days on end. It’s perhaps one of the few shows I would watch again 🤩

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Yay, your end-of-year review! I’m always impressed by how many dramas you’re able to watch, and how well you sum up their good and bad aspects (I guess it helps that we usually agree, haha).

    On Live – I highly recommend you go back to it and just fast forward the tongue thing – that case wraps up very quickly, in that episode I think, and there’s nothing else that grotesque, though there are a couple more serious cases. The relationships and arcs of all the characters are so worth it!

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    • Thanks for enjoying the year-in-review in spite of your busy schedule, Anisa! 😀 Like I said, part of the reason I’m able to watch more dramas is coz I choose not to do recaps. Those are just so high commitment, I admire folks who do them, and see them through to the end of the series. That’s dedication! Thanks for all your hard work, it’s much appreciated, even though you don’t have the bandwidth to recap at the moment. ❤ Also, hi5 that we have similar responses to so many dramas! 😀

      Thanks for the tip on Live.. I just might try that. I didn't want to FF that case coz someone told me it becomes pretty key later in the show, but with your go-ahead, I have more confidence to just skip ahead and see how I like the rest of the show. Hopefully I'll like it as much as everyone else!

      Wishing you a great 2019, with more drama hours to spend, great dramas to spend them on, and continued success at grad school! 😘

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  15. I think you will love Top Star Yoo Baek. The subs are sketchy (translation is Korean–>Indonesian–>English, but it’s funny and poignant. I’m 3 episodes in, and I love this drama.

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  16. I agree with you that this was a solid year in k-dramaland, and I also think the variety offered was great. With regard to the ones you are currently watching, I like that you mentioned Fate and Furies. The couple has serious sizzle but it seems to get a bit overlooked with all the hyped dramas. I am also watching Encounter which is fine but find myself interested in the ex-husband. The Last Empress is wackadoo crazy and fun. Please lower expectations for Memories of Alhambra. I hear it gets really good at episode 6 but I’ve stalled at 5 though I plan to jump back in as I do tend to like this writer. My favorite drama right now is Children of Nobody. We are past the halfway point so I’m hoping it continues to hold up.

    I started Story of Ming Lan yesterday because it looks interesting and I have had a thing for FSF since The Prince of Lan Ling. (And I dropped both Ice Fantasy and Starry Night so finally…not a fantasy drama.) Seventy episodes doesn’t scare me so I’ll let you know ! I finished Story of Yanxi Palace not to long ago and it zipped right along if you can handle a seventy episode harem drama…but, really, it does zip right along. Ashes of Love was also really good but you have to be in the mood for fantasy (wuxia or whatever its called – I don’t quite get the genre thing in C-dramas).

    I’m going to check out Like A Flowing River. I forget to check YouTube sometimes so thanks for the heads up.

    Hope you have a great 2019 in life and drama watching.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Viki also has gotten Like A Flowing River but they are not promoting it at all…

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    • Happy new year Kat! ❤ I'm glad you had a solid drama year too! And yes, I'm really enjoying Fates and Furies. I usually watch a single episode of a show and move on to other shows and other things, but last night I couldn't help but watch more Fates and Furies, after the E5-6 hour ended. 😋 I legit dread running out of new eps of Fates and Furies. Unfortunately, I'm almost caught up so it really won't be long I actually run out. 😭

      Thanks for the tip on Alhambra.. I must admit my expectations have been rising as more people have raved about it. You might've just saved the show for me! 😉 Glad to hear Children of Nobody is holding up well!

      I'm not into harem dramas, so I'm giving Yanxi a pass. I'm tentatively on board with C-fantasy (Peaches did that to me!) so I might check out Ashes of Love. Thanks for that! Incidentally, since you mention, wuxia refers to period dramas that feature martial arts. Xianxia is a derivative of Wuxia, in that there is martial arts, but also features fantasy elements that are heavily influenced by Buddhism and Taoism. I hope that helps to clarify! I'm fairly new to C-dramas myself, so I'm still learning as I go 🙂

      As for Like A Flowing River, AvenueX just did an excellent first impressions video, which I think many of us would benefit from watching, before starting on the show itself. Here it is, for your easy viewing pleasure 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Greetings! Not all period dramas featuring martial arts are wuxia, as some have 武 but not 侠. The 侠 code is very important in a wuxia tale, without which it would be just a straightforward martial arts story or something else. The most obvious examples of wuxia are the works of Jin Yong and Gu Long.

        Xianxia is a bit rubbishy, if Peaches and the recent fad are anything to go by. Mom is watching Peaches, and I’m laughing at all the stuff she tells me. Ashes of Love seems classified under fantasy, and not xianxia.

        Wishing you a drama-ful 2019!

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        • Thanks for that insight, junny! 😀 See, I really am learning as I go! 😆 As for Peaches.. it’s fantastical for sure, but I had a really good time watching it! Also, Mark Chao 😍😍😍 But it definitely isn’t for everyone!

          Wishing you a great year of dramas and in everything else in life in 2019, junny! ❤

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      • Thanks for the video. I checked it out, and I will be giving the drama a try. I feel for the gal re: Viki ratings but probably they are about subtitles or are mad Wang Kai isn’t in a romance drama or something. Ha! I’m interested in the subject matter. My aunt visited China in the late 1980ies when China was considered still quite closed to many in the West. She had a great trip and a week after she returned, Tiananmen Square happened. I’m interested in how they deal with something like that or if they are even allowed to. But I’m fascinated about what happened between the late 1970ies and the late 1980ies.

        I had to laugh about the make up stuff because this is a complaint of mine about Asian dramas. Everyone always looks great even when in the story, they shouldn’t look great. I think the gal is too tough on them. They all still look good with no make up because they are just pretty people 😉

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        • Lol, that’s true. I can imagine some fans being disappointed that Wang Kai’s not in a more standard romance drama. 😛 Wow, it does sound like you’ve got a pretty personal connection and interest in this particular period of China’s history. How interesting, that your aunt visited just before Tiananmen Square happened! Sounds like this drama is right up your alley – and what a rare one it is, too! And since the over-prettifying of people has been a drama peeve of yours, the lack of polished pretty in this show would actually please you! 😀

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      • Fates and Furies is going extremely well. I’m totally up to date 😊 Poor old Tae In Joon is totally bamboozled by events around him 🤔

        As for Memories of Alhambra – the latest episode ended up being the first thing I watched today. I find it intriguing. Park Shin Hye has been criticised by some for being in it and playing a weak character??? All I can say is she is playing one hell of a character and doing a marvellous job. Not only that, as she is a guitarist, she learnt to play Memories of Alhambra for her dual role – so you do see her actually play this great piece on the classical guitar throughout the show. I can also add that it is only played by the most accomplished of players (eg Ana Vidovic – you can find her flawless rendition on YouTube). PSH even made sure her Spanish was up to scratch and studied a myriad of books re Alhambra for her tourist guide segments.

        So, after today’s episode, I called up the guitar tab re Memories of Alhambra and let it auto play. My dear wife then asked if I had just written and recorded the piece of music as it sounded really nice. I said no dear, but I wish I had. It was written 132 years ago. Well, after that, I then grabbed my guitar, worked my way through the first movement, which was tortuous and really, really bad (and I mean awful 😂) However, I will press on and Park Shin Hye is a real talent 🤩

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve been trying to ration Fates and Furies, but it’s hard. I want to slurp up all my episodes, but I really don’t want to be left hanging with no new episodes to watch. 😭😭😭 Yes, total first world problems! 😆 I’ve been a good girl, I’m treating myself to an hour or two of Fates and Furies tomorrow!

          That’s really interesting, about PSH learning to play a difficult guitar piece for her role! I honestly didn’t know that she played! 😱 Also, good job with the Spanish; language is a tricky thing and most actors struggle to get their rendition right. I haven’t started on Alhambra myself, so I have no comment yet, about how she’s doing, but I’m curious to see how I respond. I’ve heard some people say that they fault the writing, for not giving her more to do, like the story is more a Hyun Bin vehicle. Not sure how you feel about that? 🙂

          PS: I love how you get legit inspired by your dramas and movies, and go pick up your guitar to play! Hopefully you’ll be playing Memories of Alhambra like a pro by the time the drama wraps? 😀

          Liked by 2 people

          • With Alhambra, I think some commentators may have spoken too soon. It’s the nature of the story – it’s gamesville afterall! Some were expecting her to become an avenging angel and join Hyun Bin early on in the game. Alhambra has packed a lot into its story and is also not immune to bumping off key characters and then bringing them back in an interesting way. After today’s episode it is clear that PSH will be by Hyun Bin’s side non stop (and I bet there will be comments about that 😂😱😂)

            As for Fates, there’s a Jimmy Buffet song (Fins) that describes Tae In Joon’s situation perfectly. The chorus goes (modified from her to him of course) – he’s got fins to the left, fins to the right, he’s the only bait in town 🦈🐠🦈

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            • Ahahaha! That lyric really does describe In Joon’s situation to a tee! So perfect! 🤣🤣🤣

              As for Alhambra, that does make sense, that people might’ve been quick to arrive at a conclusion. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind, when I start my watch! Which I’m thinking should be soon, actually. The only way to really avoid spoilers, is to watch everything yourself, ha. 😆

              Liked by 1 person

        • I just marathoned through the first 10 episodes of Memories of the Alhambra and had the urge to improve my guitar skills. I downloaded the sheet music for Memories of the Alhambra, but it looks too complicated for me to play it. I talked about it with my guitar teacher who told me to try it anyway. Oh, the things that kdramas make me do…

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          • Wow, look at you guys honing your guitar skills thanks to Alhambra! 😀 My guitar skills are too minor to even consider that I could do the same, but I am duly impressed and tickled at how you are both working to play this! 😀

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well Kfangurl, can you play an a minor chord? If yes, then you can play a bit here and there 😊 By far the hardest part is the tremolo effect. I have to retrain my brain to play ami (three fingers picking on a single string). I am so used to using so many other finger picking techniques e.g. the introduction to Hotel California, or James Taylor – various, the Beatles Bluebird or Eric Clapton’s Tears In Heaven etc.

              So, one of Linda’s Christmas presents was a sloth that mimics what you say. She thinks it’s hilarious. Needless to say, it’s the only thing I have said to our two cats that they can legitimately destroy 🤣 However, at New Years Eve I said to her watch this. I strummed Joy to the World which the Sloth repeated faithfully and then I picked out the melody over the top of its regurgitation. So, suitably impressed 🤗 At least I smiled at that point 😂

              As for Minglan. What a show. I’m 25 episodes down. For me, it is going to be hard to beat this year 🤩 Great acting, great dialogue and the attention to cultural matters – unrivalled. Its very natural. Needless to say the men are dopey (to start with) and the women are smart – it’s hilarious at times – it’s so clever. I feel like I’m a actually there 🥳

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              • I so agree with this assessment of Minglan – started a bit slow but boy, is it ever picking up. Finding myself waiting (not so patiently) for Viki subbers to get them up to date. I am at episode 25 as well. It is getting better with every episode. Minglan is a great character – a clever and thoughtful girl with a lot of hidden passion for life. I am rooting for her all the way.

                I always notice the audio and I love how they intersperse those little sound bites in the middle of the conversations. I know it is a little thing but I love that attention to detail. As someone who has worked in video it is time-comsuming to drop these clips on a track and requires some skill to get it just right. Also, most of the horses look well fed and as a horse lover I always notice this. When I see bony horses it bothers me LOL! The polo horses were magnificent.

                Thanks to both you and Fangurl for turning me onto this. I am glad you guys mentioned this drama or it would have gotten lost in my shuffle of the 6 dramas I am presently watching! Hoping it continues its current path. Grateful for this site!

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                • In episode 14 of Minglan, there is that fabulous scene between Minglan’s father (love or hate the character, his performance is superb) and the demanding women when he literally throws his hands up in the air and says “Heaven’s Lord”. I laughed so much 😂

                  The year before last I was in a meeting with the Chinese CEO of a mining company and then went for a drive to show him some things. Telling funny stories using a translator in a situation like that is always interesting because of the delay. Anyway, we must have been talking about families when I said something. There was the usual delay while my words were translated and vice versa with the response coming back “happy wife, happy life!” with a smile on his face. So, we all laughed and laughed. In fact the afternoon was very entertaining 🤣 I don’t know why Cdramas and Kdramas always portray business meetings so seriously 🤔 That’s generally not my experience, but I do understand the cultural issues 😊

                  With Minglan, I enjoy the little sound bite that’s generally associated with Big Madam. I do feel sorry for her – always caught between a rock and a hard place and not patient enough to come up with a clever solution. Unlike Minglan 😁 The polo episode was superb and the horses amazing to boot! Hopefully, eps 26 and 27 are unveiled today.

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                • Aw! I’m glad you’re enjoying Minglan too, phl! I’ll be slow to start this one, as I mentioned to Sean, but, I’m so glad that my mention of it sparked your interest! 😀 Grateful that you’re grateful, my dear! ❤❤

                  Liked by 2 people

              • I can play a couple of minor chords, but it’s been ages since I picked up a guitar, so I doubt I would get very far with playing the Alhambra piece! 😅 How fun, though, that you technically managed to play a duet with yourself! (well, or the sloth – either way it’s cool!) I giggled imagining how that must’ve looked! 😆

                I’m looking forward to starting Minglan, but it looks like I will wait until the show’s done before I start. Viki doesn’t make it available for my region, for one thing. The more important thing is, I realize this one is worth watching in HD. I test downloaded E1 from a streaming site and the same ep from a private torrent site, and the difference is quite stark. So I’ll wait for the entire series to be available later on, before I dive in 🙂 So great to hear that the show is exceeding your expectations! 😀

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                • I do hope you get to enjoy Minglan. The acting is phenomenal. Where I am now in the story, it’s just amazing. All the different actors just keep pulling out these wonderful moments and then there are the lines they have had to memorise 😱Even the diabolical characters are magnificent to watch 🤩 On a number of drama sites, it’s ratings have jumped dramatically. It’s absorbing stuff 🤗

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                  • You make it sound AMAZING, Sean! 😀 I just checked their official YouTube channel, and bummer, it’s also not available in my region. Boo. 😭 I can only imagine that maybe it’s because there are plans to sell the broadcasting rights to my local network.. 🤔

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                    • Fanqurl – it is amazing! Sean is on point and I think it is a good idea to wait until all episodes are done as it is painful having to wait for each new one to come out. It gets better with every episode. Thank goodness it is so hot right now as Viki is subbing really fast on new episodes. The characters have so much depth and the acting is incredible. I truly believe you are going to love this one. Top notch production as well.

                      I also wrapped up the first season of Like a Flowing River – all 47 episodes and it is also one you are going to truly love. Slow and steady with tons of excellent visuals and outstanding acting. The characters grow so much!

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                    • Aw, thanks for making me feel better about not having access to the YouTube channel where it’s available in HD – just not in my region! 😆 You sure know how to make a girl feel better, phl! ❤

                      Also, wow, you move fast! You're already done S1 of Like a Flowing River! 😲 Great to hear that you loved it! Curious question: does S1 end on a cliffhanger? I'm wondering whether it's worth waiting until closer to S2 being released, to watch S1. 🤔

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                    • There really aren’t any cliffhangers so to speak so you would be safe. The drama is aptly named as it really flows along just like a river with twists and turns – always moving. I don’t feel a sense of urgency waiting for S2. Instead, I look forward to catching up with ‘new friends’ so to speak. You grow to love the characters and feel invested in their journeys. The acting is top notch.

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                    • Aw, you put it so well, phl! I mean, you make waiting for S2 sound like a pleasant experience! 😀 Thanks my dear, I will check out S1 sooner than later, in that case! ❤

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          • Yes, the things that Kdramas make us do 😂 Well done to you Snow Flower. It’s a wonderful piece of music 😊 It transports one to another time and place. Then there is the Alhambra itself. Marvellous. I will tackle the sheet music again this weekend 🤔

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            • I have not taken up sword fighting or acupuncture yet, haha! But I did learn the Korean alphabet and I am currently trying to read song lyrics. I can sing The Green Mountain Song from Six Flying Dragons. Currently learning Days Without Tears from Mr. Sunshine.

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  17. Pingback: (50) List of Romantic Comedy and Romance Kdramas of 2018 – Kdrama Crazy

  18. I eagerly await your end of the year review and I am so glad it is here – yes! Thoughtfully detailed as is all of your writing. Really enjoyable to read as I got flashbacks of these dramas and enjoyed thinking of them again. And you know how much I appreciate the smattering of OSTs here and there. For me Money Flower was the best Drama of the year hands down. It blew me away! The music and acting were outstanding.

    I dropped a lot of drama this year (e.g. About Time after 10 episodes, Twelve Nights after episode 1) and lost interest in a lot of others (e.g. Fox Bride Star and Come and Hug Me). I may go back and visit one or two but only time will tell.

    The best thing about this post is that you mention Like a Flowing River and The Story of Minglan – I am very curious and I will be checking these out for sure along with Fates and Furies. If you and Sean like FNF I am definitely checking it out.

    However, these 3 will need to wait until I get through CDrama Ever Night/NightFall which had me hook, line and sinker after the first 10 minutes of episode 1. I am even reading the novel and have worked my way up to chapter 623. Crazy! I may be addicted to this work by Mao Ni and his portrayal of Ning Que and SangSang.

    Thanks again FanGurl – you are the best! I so appreciate the work you do on this site.

    Wishing all of us a great 2019 year of Drama!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw, thanks for waiting for this post, phl! Makes me feel pretty darn special and important, so thank you ❤ Thanks so much for your support, I feel the love, and it means a lot. ❤

      Yes, Money Flower was really fantastic. I got my mum to watch it, and even though she was a little doubtful at first (I sold her on how it has some NIF feels, coz Pil Joo feels like a strategist, and the show feels like a sageuk), she slurped up the show way faster than I expected her to, and agreed it was very good. Win! 😀

      Yes, I am loving Fates and Furies, like, enough to wish more episodes were available, so that I could marathon the show! What a happy surprise, coz this show was not even on my radar, thanks to me having it in my head that it was a gajillion episodes long, which it's not. 😛

      As for Like A Flowing River, I recommend you watch the video that I posted above, in a reply to Kat, before embarking on your watch. It's a great overview and she does a great job framing the show for us, so that we're better able to appreciate the show, going in. 🙂

      Also, 623 chapters?!?? That does sound kinda crazy! Wow! 😱 Now you've piqued my interest.. I wonder if I need to check out Ever Night now? 😅

      Like

      • Dear FanGurl – thank you for introducing me to AvenueX’s YouTube channel and she actually did a video on Ever Night. Lots to explore on her channel and helpful as my CDrama viewing has increased over the last year.

        There is a lot of fighting in this drama as well as heavy on the fantasy so you may not like it as much as I do. Also it appears to be primarily a revenge theme (it is to a certain degree but as the story progresses it really is so much more). I also know that you are not a revenge theme fan unless it is done really well. NIF it is not, but then again what could ever be as good as NIF?

        What really hooked me on this drama from episode 1 was the relationship between the two leads and the deep bond of love that they share. There is a lot of bromance in this as well and it is done with a lot of love. CGI is high quality and the fight scenes are downright terrific. I was so curious that I started reading the web novel and found that I could not put it down.

        Still waiting to see how the drama interprets the novel in the future as the story gets really epic as it goes along – like on a world-wide scale – but so far Mao Ni has not lose sight of the inseparable love between the leads. Note that the web novel has not ended. Hopefully the immense scale of the story is not its downfall and the threads are all connected.

        Very curious to see how the drama interprets the novel going forward. Much respect for this writer as translating this novel to the screen has to be a very difficult task indeed. Time will tel!.

        In the meantime I have to fill in the drama hours while I am waiting so – onto FNF and The Story of Minglan today! I cannot wait to see Like a Flowing River so hopefully Viki will get some subbed episodes up soon. Feeling that 2019 may be a CDrama heavy year.

        Like

        • You’re very welcome, dear phl! 😀 AvenueX is great, she has a breadth and depth of knowledge when it comes to Chinese productions, and I enjoy watching her videos. 🙂 The only thing to know is that, while she starts lots of dramas, she doesn’t always finish them, so what we get is a lot of First Impressions videos, but not that many videos for after the show is over. If she really loves a show, she will definitely make those videos, like she did for NIF2 and Guardian.

          Thanks for the insight into Ever Night.. not sure if it’s my cup of tea, but you do make it sound intriguing! I’ve popped it on my list for at least a toe-dip. If it doesn’t grab me in the first 10 minutes like it did you, then I know I’ll probably love it less than you do..? 😆

          I am sucked into Fates and Furies, properly. I wish I had more episodes to watch! I watched 2 hours back to back, and then had to remind myself to ration what I have, so that I don’t run out episodes too soon.. That gives you an idea of how it’s quickly risen to the top of my current drama plate! 😍

          Like a Flowing River is available on YouTube in HD, with subs (click cc for subs), so you might want to check that out. E1 is here:

          Liked by 1 person

    • Money Flower for me as well! The biggest surprise… and discovery of Jung Seung Jo 😍

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi first time to comment in your blog Kfangurl. Thank you for all your reviews and recommendation . Appreciate your work and looking forward for more reviews in 2019.

    Wishing you and all of us a Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Just want to thank you for all your hard work. It is always a pleasure to read your thorough reviews! 😍😘
    (And I hope you will like Dae Jang Geum is Watching 😉🙂… )

    Like

  21. Lol I don’t think I could convince you to try Guardian again cuz you either love it or you don’t, but for a lot of fans, I think the biggest appeal was also knowing a bit about and loving the novel premise, because the novel itself definitely had its own massive following. Ppl were impressed by the acting and chemistry bc even though the plot and script was totally shitty, the actors did a lot of their own research and were very very close to the original. I definitely sped through that basically in a day or two, but eh to each their own.

    I’m fairly certain Minglan and Like a Flowing River are doing well and are truly good productions (thank you, Daylight Ent), but tbh I haven’t been in the mood at all for either, despite having anticipated them for over a year.

    I ended up fast-forwarding through YunXi when I was bored and it was …ok.

    Lol Suddenly Summer is ALSO on my to-watch list, but also…haven’t been in the mood lolol.

    I’ve also heard that My Huckleberry Friend and With You are both really good too. Also haven’t been in the mood lol.

    Bloody Romance was pretty good too, but also is super angsty.

    Ever Night started pretty good, with really polished production and good veteran actors and decent story, but I ended up dropping it mostly just out of lack of interest and sudden dropped motivation. I heard it got really draggy towards the end.

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    • Happy new year, Julianne! ❤ Always great to see you around here! 🙂

      Lol, yeah, I don't think Guardian's for me, sadly. I think those who fell for it, fell for it right away. I didn't feel anything but bemusement after 3 episodes, so I figured more effort on my part just wouldn't make the difference that I needed. It's really interesting to know that the actors did their own research and were very close to the source material, though! That's dedication, which I like ❤

      Bummer that you haven't quite been the mood for most of the dramas you mentioned.. Mood really is so important when it comes to dramas, I find. But, I saw that you've started on My Mister, so yay for that! 😀

      Like

    • MUST WATCH ‘SOMETHING IN THE RAIN’

      Like

  22. Wow! That’s a whole lotta dramas. I’m truly impressed. 😀

    I finished 9 of those on your list, LOL! Tried several others but gave up after couple of episodes, though some lasted a bit longer before getting Das Boot. I’m still having very limited drama-time so there has to be something that sparks my interest early on to keep me going. Very fiew dramas manage to do that. There were also times I didn’t really feel like picking up any of the shows on my roster, so I ended up watching several Chinese donghuas instead. *g*

    But yeah, despite of the slim pickings (for me) there were some truly good dramas to compensate. Like My Mister and Life on Mars, Just Between Lovers too.

    Me thinks that dramas with a hefty fantasy element aren’t really your thing. 😉 I’ve always loved fantasy as a genre, even in novel format, so I tend to check out shows with that ingredient. No promieses I’ll stick to them though. There are some truly bad fantasy cdramas that are only good for snark watching, and which I dropped without any regrets. Still watching Ever Night but I’m several episodes behind. I haven’t found it draggy so far and I love how gorgous it looks. There are times I don’t even care for the plot but just enjoy the scenery and BGM. ^^ I’ve read almost all of the translated chapters of the web novel too, so you can say I’m pretty much spoiled for everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • u should watch SOMETHING IN THE RAIN…

      Like

      • I actually did watch fair bit of Something in the Rain, but it just bored me to death. So nope, not my thing, which was rather sad as I’ve loved other dramas by that PD. We all have our preferences. 🙂 Glad it worked for you though.

        Like

    • Aw, thanks Timescout – you are always so kind ❤ Yes, I'm pretty sure a fair number of dramas on my list wouldn't have made your cut. You're a tough drama-master! 😉 But, I'm so happy that you made time for My Mister, and loved it. That's the show that I almost didn't watch – eek! SO glad everyone didn't give up on me, and kept working to persuade me that it's wonderful, coz it really is. ❤

      I do think you're right about me and fantasy-heavy shows.. I didn't do well at all with Novoland previously even though you had a good time with it. And while I loved Peaches, I haven't done super well with other fantasy-heavy C-dramas.. Like I didn't do well with Guardian at all. 😛 You know me better than I know myself, chingu! 😆 I will proceed with caution! 😀

      Like

      • There is always that one drama that ends up surprising you in a good way. I love when that happens. 🙂

        Ha, guess we’ve learned something about each other’s preferences over the years . 😉 I did some pondering and it’s perhaps not the fantasy element per se that is the problem here but rather the genre. I believe Peaches is a more or less a pure xianxia, so it could be that this is why it worked for you. Many other fantasy heavy cdramas are more of the action/adventure/quest kind and their world building and focus tends to be different. Then there’s also the matter of execution. Both Novoland and Guardian are rather on the campy side and I don’t think that is a feature that endears itself to you. *g* Ever Night is not like that, it actually has a very well done setting that resembles ‘normal’ world but with specific fantasy elements. There are rules to these things! Some people just have special abilties that ‘cultivation’ can enhance.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ooh! My goodness, Timescout! Y’know, I do think you could’ve just hit the nail on the head! 😱 The genre is a big factor, and the campy is DEFINITELY a big factor!!! 😱 I really usually don’t do well with campy, unless it is “just so” – for my tastes. And that is so very rare, that it’s tempting to just stop trying, lol. I’m open to action/adventure/quest stuff, but only if it’s done in the very tightly-written, well-executed way. Campy almost certainly need not apply, in those cases. 😅

          OMG Timescout, you are BRILLIANT. Thank you for drama-analyzing me, my dear chingu! I feel like I just had a total lightbulb moment! 😀 THANK YOU ❤❤❤

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  23. i’m a big fan of ‘something in the rain’.keep repeating watch it for almost 10 times.
    and thanks alot for the reviews. make easier for me to select some of the drama to watch

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  24. Ha, as always, without even watching these dramas, I feel like this would be my final thoughts. I’mma give it a try and learn how to organize myself in order to spare time for a few of your recommandations. I definitely need to check out NIF2. Thank you for your hard work ♥♥

    * whispers * so about that Coffee Prince review ? *

    Like

    • Aw.. that’s so generous of you to say, dear Sunny! 😘 I feel so.. TRUSTED! 😍😍 Yes, please do make time for the A-tier dramas, and whichever of the second tier ones that strike your fancy. I enjoyed Familiar Wife, so much more than I thought I would! I really enjoyed a good number of dramas in 2018, but the must-sees are the A-tier, of course 😉

      Also, eep, that Coffee Prince review, which I’ve owed the world at large for literal years now! 😱😛 Looks like this is something that I really need to get down to, after all! 😆

      Oh, btw, how was your encounter with Pretty Noona? I remember you said you were checking it out for yourself, because of all the disparate opinions out there. What’s your latest take on that one? 🤓

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I’m stuck at episode 5 or 6. Netflix knows better than me. It’s just sooo dull. I get the overall concept and I get why it appealed to so many people, but the execution didn’t do it for me. The realism wasn’t entertaining enough for MY taste. xD

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        • That’s so interesting, Sunny! Coz actually, up to about E6, I was enjoying it pretty well. It was after E6 that it all started to go downhill for me, if memory serves. I recently talked with a friend on Twitter, who loved the show from the beginning and couldn’t understand why people got so mad at the show.. until she herself got to the later episodes. She ended up feeling mostly anger towards the show, after she got to the end. 😛 So I was curious about your experience. But honestly, I don’t think it’s worth going back, especially if you weren’t feeling the early eps to begin with. I have many other suggestions for how you can spend those drama hours! *wiggles eyebrows* 😀

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          • * wiggles eyebrow back * I’d say this, though. I started Memories of Alhambra. I’ll try to keep up with the Netflix broacasting and see if I manage to reach the end. So far, it does get me questionning how everything works, so no red flag so far !

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ooh! Wow, talk about being current! 😀 You, who so recently stated that you’ve barely watched any dramas since Bok Joo! 🤣🤣 I love it! That one’s on my list, so if you are enjoying it, that’s a good sign for me! Fingers crossed with ya, that it stays good till the end! 🤞🏻😊

              Liked by 1 person

            • Just so you know, it was YOUR comment that galvanized me into action. ❤ The long overdue Coffee Prince review is DONE. HUZZAH! 😀 Check it out here, when you have some time! 😉

              Liked by 1 person

  25. hi kfangurl,

    1st – thank you for the great reviews you have continuously churn out, bravo! i do trust your judgement so, i will give the prison playbook another try. you know, for the luv of jung kyung ho<3

    2nd – i think 2018 is a banner year for kdrama! as a consumer/watcher, having 3 favorites in one year is a bounty! my top pick is my ahjussi, life on mars & live:) over the years i've learned to trust the instincts of my faves and they didn't fail me:) both LSG & KJH acting was topnotch this year! i recently discovered chae shi-ra in goodbye to goodbye, but for some reason i didn't forged on & finished the drama, but she's one good actress. i'm watching the last empress for JNR, and what can i say, i'm staying for the crazy! plot-holes aside, the story is moving too fast for my brain to question everybody's intentions, this is equivalent to watching fluff rom-com on acid, hahahhahhaaaa… dance sports girl has the right amount of angst for a coming-of-age show. i wish it was more tightly written, but JDY has become a recent fave from if we were a season, i'm easy to please, hahhahahaaa…

    3rd – i wish you good health for 2019! more blessing! and as a kdrama watcher, great dramas to view!

    Like

    • Aw, thanks bugs_bunny! ❤ I'm glad you've been enjoying the reviews, and yes, please do give Prison Playbook another chance. It took a couple of eps before it settled, for me. I found the initial eps a bit hard to get a grip on, in terms of what Show was going for. But once you get past the initial eps, you quickly start to get Answer Me vibes, from sense of humor, to sense of community, to character spotlights. I hope you'll like it as much as I ended up liking it! 😀

      Yay that 2018 was a good drama year for you – there really were some excellent gems this year, I think. I didn't manage to get into Live, but I loved My Mister and Life On Mars, hi5! 😉 And yes, both LSG and JKH were wonderful. 😍 On that note, JKH doesn't get as much screen time in Prison Playbook, because that's an ensemble kind of drama, but I really enjoyed him there too.

      Last Empress is absolutely too fast and too nuts to keep track of everything, so I'm just sitting back and enjoying the ride. It's a complete rollercoaster, and even though it's been slightly less fun in recent eps, I'm still enjoying it overall. 🙂 I really need to get started on Dance Sports Girls – I hadn't realized that it's finished its run!

      Thank you for the lovely wishes for 2019! I'll take 'em all – and wish 'em right back atcha! May we all have an amazing 2019! 😀

      Like

  26. Pingback: [Memories] The Best Kdramas of 2018: My Top 5 – Kdrama Memories

  27. Pingback: Review: Coffee Prince | The Fangirl Verdict

  28. I hope this korean drama The Smile has left your eyes will be included on your list! ❤

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    • Gosh, lots of you guys have been asking me to try The Smile Has Left Your Eyes! Looks like I need to at least give it a try! 😅 Thanks for the suggestion, Tsaryz! 🙂

      Like

  29. Such a great read this post is! And I totally agree with all your choices for each category! I wish I knew Misty was going to end like that…lol

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    • Thanks for enjoying this year-in-review, snow! ❤ Hi5 that we feel similarly about the shows! I remember you finished Misty – was it as frustrating for you as it was for other folks? I know some of our Twitter pals were VERY upset by the show, when they got to the end! 😛 I guess sometimes there is an advantage to being late to the party..! 😝😆

      Liked by 1 person

      • haha…I didn’t pay much attention to what people said about the ending…I was late too for watching it but I only remembered how everyone raved about it! And Murder Mysteries are one of my favorite genres, so I wanted to give it a try from the start.
        Not only the ending, but I found myself losing interest even before that…and yes, the ending was bad!

        Like

        • Oh, really! Knowing that you started losing interest even before the finale does make me feel better about spoiling myself and therefore spoiling my watch! 😅 I did think the early eps were really strong. And Go Hye Ran really was such a regal character, no matter the circumstances. That was cool. 😍

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  30. I’ve just entered the world of Korean dramas a few days ago, we started with Memories of Alhambra, my children (all girls 13yrs – 6yrs) are loving the series. Is there anything similar we can watch? We tried watching Strong Girl Bong-Soon but I’m not finding it appropriate to watch with my children … could you suggest some with minimal or no kissing scenes and no awkward humour like gay jokes where romance isn’t the main story. Memories of Alhambra is perfect because of the hint of romance so am looking for something with a similar vibes.

    Thank you

    Like

    • Hi there naseema, welcome to the blog – and to the wonderful world of kdramas! 😀 I’m glad you and your girls are enjoying Memories of Alhambra – I actually haven’t started on it yet (I will, soon!), so you are totally ahead of me on this one! 😉

      Your request for recommendations is a bit of a tough one, because the thing with Korean dramas is, most of the time, the writers find a way to make a story into a romance, even when it doesn’t need to be. On the upside, most of the romance portrayed tends to be on the sweet and innocent side, especially when compared to the way romances are portrayed in western entertainment.

      Here’s what I’ve got for you at the moment:

      1. City Hunter (the emphasis is on the action, and romance is fairly muted. There are a couple of kiss scenes, but nothing outrageous)
      2. My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (it’s got a central romance, but it’s treated with more cutesy and humor than actual sexy, so it could be worth considering)
      3. Dream High (about teenagers & dancing kpop dreams. There is a love triangle but it’s treated in an innocent & youthful way)
      4. School 2013 (about the struggles of being a teen in high school in Korea. There’s no central romance. Instead the focus is on a very strong platonic bond between 2 boys)
      5. Two Weeks (action-oriented, with a dad working against time to clear his name & save his daughter)
      6. The Three Musketeers (a pretty rollicking Korean period adaptation of the famous tale. There’s a central romance but it’s between a Crown Princess and her cold husband, and it’s not inappropriately treated)
      7. Five Children (a family drama about two divorcees, each with a couple of kids, finding love with each other, and how they work to blend their two households into a single family)
      8. Terius Behind Me (spy hijinks with a comic filter. A spy on a personal mission ends up babysitting his next door neighbors 2 little kids while trying to solve a mystery. Muted romance, cute kids)

      I hope at least a couple of these will hit the mark for you! 🙂

      Like

      • Hi naseema! Hi kfangurl!

        I’d like to suggest “Sungkyungkwan Scandal” and “Pasta” to naseema and the kids. Both still had kisses, but just a minimum and sweet. Both showed friendship that bonded beautifully, albeit unfolded through difficult situation. And most of all, they are fun to watch. SKKS could introduced the girls to Joseon era, with traditional hanbok and all, which could be interesting because it might seem like a fantasy drama. Pasta took you to peek into the operation of a restaurant, which is amusing nonetheless. Both dramas featured my favorite actors: Yoo Ah In, Song Joong Ki, Park Yu Chun, Lee Sun Gyun.

        What do you think, kfangurl?

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        • Thanks for the suggestions Widya! ❤

          Yes, I agree Sungkyunkwan Scandal is a cute one, and an easy introduction to the Joseon era. Just know that it's a fusion piece, so there are some modern twists on how things were done at the time 🙂

          As for Pasta, I personally loved that show a lot when I watched it, but I am aware that Lee Sun Gyun's Chef character was very shouty, and also, that our female lead had her hearts in her eyes a lot of the time, for the shouty chef. While it all turns out sweetly, I wonder if this is a suitable relationship dynamic to present to impressionable young girls, especially since I don't recall that Show actually calls him out for his domineering behavior. 🤔

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          • Alas, I must agree on Pasta…. You are right. The chef is not a nice man to begin with. Definitely not a fluffy introduction to the world of romance hahaha… I guess my judgement is clouded with my bias toward Lee Sun Gyun and how his character actually captured my heart. Not the shouting one, of course, but the soft-hearted man behind that annoying facade of his.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, I completely understand being clouded by Lee Sun Gyun affection.. I did enjoy him very much in Pasta! But when you break down the loveline, it really isn’t very healthy. I mean, in the end, if memory serves, he’s the one who decides that she should stay instead of go for her chef training. I recall he didn’t even discuss it with her, and took things into his own hands, to make it such that she had to stay. Now, I was charmed by our leads and Show’s simple warmth, but honestly, if you analyze just the plot point, it’s unfair to Gong Hyo Jin’s character, who should have been given the agency to make her own decision around that. :/

              Like

  31. Great year end review! Amongst the THE ONES WORTH MAKING TIME FOR korean dramas, I have only watched My Ahjusshi; and I have to agree that it truly deserves the A+. I believe it is among the top 3 korean dramas I have watched so far.

    Like your previous reviews, I will be using your A-list as reference for what to watch first. I have started watching Thirty But Seventeen and I am loving the feels its giving me. I will have Prison Playbook and Money Flower next in line. However, you got me curious on Nirvana on Fire that I am thinking of watching of it too. Or maybe Meet Me @1006, because of the review comments I have read here. So far, the Chinese dramas I have watched are A Love So Beautiful and Meteor Garden only.

    1 Litre no Namida is one of my favorite Jdoramas. I used to watch a lot of Jdoramas back in the 2000s during my stay in Japan. My other faves are Beautiful Life, Long Vacation, GTO and some others I can’t remember. I was a KimuTaku fan way back. 🙂

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    • Hi there Odette! Happy new year to ya, and as always, thanks for enjoying the post! 😀 Yay that you watched My Ahjusshi and loved it – it really is so special, isn’t it? ❤ I agree it totally deserves a place among the top kdramas of all time 🙂

      So glad you're enjoying Thirty But Seventeen, I really enjoyed that one; more than I thought I would, actually. It's just so sweet and wholesome, and Shin Hye Sun really surprised me with her on-point youthful portrayal of a teenager stuck in an adult body. Has Chan stolen your heart yet? I didn't take to him super quick, but it wasn't long before I had a serious soft spot for the boy. 😍😍 I hope you'll enjoy Prison Playbook and Money Flower when you get to them! And OMG YES, watch Nirvana in Fire! It is, to date, THE best drama I have watched, across countries. Just fair warning, it ruined most of us for other dramas, for a while. After finishing NIF, it took a while for me to feel properly into another drama, because nothing else felt like it came close. 😛 On the upside, now there's NIF2 to fill that gap..? 😅

      There are some other excellent Chinese dramas that I'd recommend. If you're up for something mature and elegant, I highly recommend The First Half Of My Life. So well done, really. I haven't seen that many Japanese dramas, but 1 Litre of Tears is such a classic that I had to give it a try. So poignant and heart-tugging, all the way through.

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  32. I LOVED MONEY FLOWER AND PRISON PLAYBOOK. Live was good for me. I liked the chemistry and the plot honestly. Bad Guys 2 cant be comapred to the first one… Waiting for your verdict on Terius. Am watching Memories of Alhambra and Last Empress now! Thank you for this review 😀

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    • Glad you enjoyed the review, Mich. Glad you loved Money Flower and Prison Playbook too! 😀 As for Terius, it took a while to grow on me, but I’m almost halfway through the show now, and I’m finding it very cute and enjoyable. ❤ I hope you're enjoying Alhambra and Last Empress!

      Like

  33. So many to catch up on!! It’s crazy how everytime I’m reading your blog you get me interested in so many dramas lol. I’m wondering if you’ve seen Yanxi Palace or Ruyi’s Love In The Palace? Probs not exactly your thing but Yanxi Palace is soooo good. Some politicking with a good amount of fluff on the side.

    Like

    • Tee hee! I’m glad this post added more shows to your list, Simeon! 😀 If you’re short on time, then just make time for the A-rated ones, and the B++ ones. That would make me super happy, if you watched those shows! ❤

      I didn't try Yanxi or Ruyi.. I find that the harem dramas don't really grab me. I've heard lots of raves for those 2 shows in particular though, so maybe one day I will give it a try.. I can be a curious cat that way! 😆 I just started on Ashes Of Love yesterday, and I'm thinking I might get into this. There were lots of raves for it and the regular comparisons to Peaches piqued my interest. After E1, I can see why there's a Peaches comparison, it's also about gods, goddesses, fairies and the like. I'm not digging the leads so far, but it's too early to really tell, so I plan to keep going, at least for a bit! 🙂

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      • That’s true. I know I’ve seen quite a few that’s on the list. There’s sooooo many drama being churned out right now it’s getting pretty overwhelming lolol.

        Uh, yes. I did notice you rarely blogged about harem dramas. Haven’t seen Ruyi but have heard not so good stuff about it which is a shame but Yanxi is def a must-watch! Plus in case u didnt know, the supporting actor used to be from Singapore which makes me so much happier watching it. LOL

        Ohh I’ve seen Ashes of Love on Netflix. Might give it a try too!

        Like

        • Did you finish Yanxi? My friend was really into it even as a guy, and he did also tell me about the supporting actor from Singapore who’s in it. Last he told me though, he got a bit weary from the many episodes and has paused indefinitely around the E40 mark. I might give it a try sometime, but that would probably be more out of curiosity than anything else! 😅

          Ashes of Love does still remind me of Peaches, 2 eps in, but so far, I feel like there’s more magicky stuff in Ashes, and the leads aren’t as compelling as well. But, Peach is quite special and in a league of its own (at least in my head), so to have some flavor of Peaches is not a bad thing, to me. I’ll keep going for now, just to see whether it sticks! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yup I got so addicted to Yanxi I couldn’t stop. It did get tiresome somewhere in the middle but I was so taken in by the emperor and I REALLY wanted to see her relationship with the emperor so I just kept going and it just gets better from then on. Tbh I was more interested in revenge rather than the romance. But yes, do give it a try!

            I saw the first two episodes of Ashes of Love (I think it’s two ep) on Netflix and I’m anticipating lots of angst. Might wait for a bit before I jump into it. I can do revenge angst but not so much romantic angst

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            • Wow, you finished Yanxi! Bravo! It’s so longgg! 😅 I’ll keep it in mind for a toe-dip, if only to see whether I’ll get sucked in like everyone else before me! 😆

              I’m up to E17 of Ashes, and I’m feeling a bit of drag. I thought the early stretch was funny and entertaining, but things are a little on the angsty side right now, so it’s less fun to watch. I’ve seen lots of comments saying that this show is very good as a whole, though, so I’m hopeful that it’ll pick up again soon. I’m also taking comfort in the positive comments because that gives me hope that Show won’t go off the rails partway through its story! 😅

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              • I’m HUGE sucker for a good, high quality palace politcs drama so the length isnt really a problem for me. Once I get sucked into the story I’m in all the way.

                I dipped my toes into Ashes up to ep 2 but I’m not feeling it at the moment. I’ve read the reviews about how good it is and all but judging from the opening, I can predict lots of romantic angst which is another element that kept me from watching on. Revenge/politcal angst, that I can do. Romantic angst……not so much LOL. But it seemed like the type of show to binge-watch and cry over. Apparently my friend cried

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                • Man, you are certainly stirring up my interest in Yanxi! 😅 I’m curious to see if I’ll get as sucked in as you were!

                  I’m at E22 of Ashes and still enjoying it. It was a little angsty in the teen eps, but is now cute again, so I’m a happy camper for now! 😉 I literally have no idea whether this has a happy ending or a sad one; I only know that people say it’s good, and somewhat similar to Peaches. For my sake, I really hope it turns out to be good! 😝😅 I’ll keep you posted!

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                  • Yes!! Hopefully you’ll like Yanxi then!

                    My friend keeps bugging me to watch Ashes but there’s something about Yang Zi’s character that’s putting me off as well. Though I heard she becomes this whole other person later on. And Deng Lun is gorgeous in Ashes. But I kinda miss him as his character in Ode To Joy 2 😂

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                    • Well, I do agree that Yang Zi’s character bemused me quite a bit, at least at first. Where I am now, it’s become better, but she hasn’t become the whole other person yet, so I’m curious to see that. And YES, Deng Lun is swoony in Ashes. 😍😍 I spend every episode just waiting for his scenes with Yang Zi. I am so tempted to FF the other stuff, but the context-lover in me is being cautious. I feel like some of the other stuff might be important information and so I force myself to sit through arcs I have zero interest in, just in case it’s important. 😂

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                    • HAHAHA omg I know that feel! In most cases I do fast forward them and have no regrets lolol but seeing as it’s a long c-drama there might actually be important info along the way.

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                    • I don’t know. Now I’m rethinking my strategy with Ashes. 😅 I’m now getting to the point where I’m quite tempted to drop the drama coz I’m getting so bored with the plot developments. 😛 Maybe it’s time to start FF through whatever doesn’t strike my fancy, and see how that goes!

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                    • Oh no. I applaud your perseverance to keep going. Usually when I get bored with a drama I drop it right away. But I’m extremely picky and I don’t like wasting my time on a show or movie I don’t like.😂 Hopefully it gets better as you watch on!!

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                    • Well.. I had intentions to keep going when I wrote my last comment, but I have to confess that it’s been almost 2 weeks since I last watched any Ashes, and I haven’t been feeling the urge to pick back up again, largely because there are other dramas that are capturing my attention more. I do wonder what happens to our leads though, so I might still end up going back to it eventually. But for now, it’s on pause. 😛

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                    • Ohh HAHA at least you have it a shot! What other dramas are you eyeing recently? I’ve just dropped Ruyi Zhuan (75 episodes in actually lol) and am wondering if i should move on to anime or catch another drama. Of course, there’s also real life to attend to 😅

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                    • I’ve got The Story Of Ming Lan on my list.. lots of folks have been recommending it to me very highly, so that’s the next C-drama I will try. It sounds like it’s refreshingly different from most other period dramas coming out of China, maybe you might want to give it a try too. 🙂 Wow that you dropped Ruyi 75 eps in! Makes me feel less bad at potentially dropping Ashes at E40..! 😅

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                    • I’ve seen that on Youtube! Will definitely have a look when I can. Been so out of touch with the drama scene lately 😅 Yes I just can’t watch LRY which is sad since I had been looking forward to the series since it’s announcement. Nahhh never feel bad! Did you eventually drop it?

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                    • I think Minglan would definitely be worth a look. I haven’t started on it myself (too many dramas that I want to watch!), but it’s high on my list, and I expect to start watching it soon. And yes, I think I will be dropping Ashes. I paused it several weeks ago and since then, haven’t felt the urge to go back. 😛 Also, I read that other viewers also felt similarly at the E40 mark, so I know I’m not just imagining things, that it’s just not as engaging as it used to be. :/ I might do a Dropped post on it soon, just to make it official! 😆

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Oh damn hahah. Will be looking forward to ur next post! Been so out of touch with dramas lately and watching more films instead. Hopefully will get to catch Minglan soon.

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                    • Lol. I still haven’t gotten started on Minglan, can you believe it?! 😆 I guess I am rather daunted by the high episode count. 😛 But it’s got such a good reputation that I will definitely get to it, and probably soonish. I’ve been watching Well Intended Love (奈何BOSS要娶我) which was recommended to me a while back. It’s one of those cute fluffy mindless rom-com things, so if you’re in the mood for it, it’s not bad. I’m 14 eps in out of 20, and it’s less fun now than it was at first, but it’s still better than the average C-rom-com I’ve tried, so there’s that? 😅

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I’ve seen that show floating around on Facebook. Looks really cute. My watchlist is just constantly expanding I don’t think I’ll ever catch up 😩 but I’m def in the mood for some cute rom-coms and I’ve tend to prefer C-dramas over other types so maybe I’ll check it out!

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                    • I’ve been dragging my feet on Well Intended Love, eep. I have to admit that it’s really a lot less fun for me now than at first, but that could be just me, coz lots of folks seem to love this one. The early-ish stretch is pretty fun though, so maybe try that, and if it stops being fun for you, you can drop it then? 😅

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Just read your review. I’m definitely giving it a miss 😂

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                    • HAHA! I think that’s a wise choice, honestly! 😆

                      Liked by 1 person

  34. Hi!!

    Loved your year in review for 2018!! I was wondering if you have any suggestions for C-dramas? Being ethnically Chinese, I have really been wanting to explore C-dramas 🙂

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    • Hi vee, what kind of dramas do you like? Also, have you watched any C-dramas at all yet? That would be useful information for me, before I suggest anything to you. 🙂

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      • Honestly I’m pretty open to any genre. Hmmmm recently I have watched Meteor Garden and A Love So Beautiful and loved them both 🙂

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        • Well for something youthy, I’m currently enjoying When We Were Young 2018. Another one is Our Youth, if you’re ok to manage without English subs. Love O2O is light and fluffy as well, which might work for you. Another one you might want to consider is Taiwanese drama Bromance, which is light, cute, and has great OTP chemistry. For epic romance, I really liked Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms. It’s a slowish burn but it gets cracky by the tween eps. For something more Game of Thrones-esque, Nirvana in Fire is truly wonderful. Just bear in mind that there is almost zero romance in it. I hope that helps! 🙂

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  35. Hi! Thanks for your site. It’s a good place to browse through before entering into a drama or read someone else’s thoughts after watching one. I am writing this after watching [Eulachacha Waikiki](https://mydramalist.com/26644-eulachacha-waikiki). I saw that it’s not mentioned on the site or maybe I missed it. You should definitely give it a try if it slipped under your radar. I never thought I’d watch a K-sitcom but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hope you enjoy it too.

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    • Hi there, punch! Thanks for enjoying the site! 🙂 I have to confess that I haven’t watched Waikiki. I did dip a toe into E1, but I wasn’t in the mood for it and wandered off. I’ve heard good things about it, so I might go back to it sometime. Thanks for the suggestion! 🙂

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  36. I just finished another 2018-19 drama, Red Moon Blue Sun (Children of Nobody). It may not be to everyone’s taste. The show explored a very dark subject (child abuse) in a very sensitive manner. The acting was excellent.

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    • I’ve heard very good things about Children of Nobody! I’m leery of starting it coz of its dark theme (child abuse, eek!), but I’m intrigued by Show’s excellent reputation! 😅

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  37. Pingback: Flash Review: Terius Behind Me [My Secret Terius] | The Fangirl Verdict

  38. Pingback: Flash Review: When We Were Young 2018 [China] | The Fangirl Verdict

  39. Hi there. Have just spent an enjoyable hour browsing your year best lists. Thank you! I will come back to read your Chinese reviews as I plan to learn Chinese later this year and want to start watching Chinese dramas. Since you liked Age of Youth you will probably enjoy the Chinese version: Youth\Dearest You 2018 最亲爱的你. It’s an almost scene-by-scene or even line-by-line copy but the actors and settings give it all new life. There are English subtitles around.
    I know some basic Korean and Japanese and watch a lot of movies and dramas in those languages. I was amazed to find how much our tastes coincide. My favorite Korean dramas include Age of Youth, Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, and My Mister. I also enjoyed Mother, the better remake of the Japanese original – another redemptive story like My Mister. Forest of Secrets and Signal are the best police/crime series I’ve watched, which I don’t usually enjoy. On the Way to the Airport is a wonderful story about a middle-life affair/romance. Sandglass is of course a classic and one of the very best. Painter of the Wind especially for the secret romance.
    Do you watch Japanese dramas? They are rarely as good as Korean ones in my opinion. Quartet is one of my favorites, and the scriptwriter Yuji Sakamoto has written several other good ones. Also the Japanese and Korean versions of Queen’s Classroom are both great.

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    • Hi there rje11! Sounds like we do like a lot of the same shows! Hi5! 😀

      That’s great that you’ll be learning Chinese! It’s such a hard language, and I say that as a Chinese person! 😅 But watching Chinese dramas definitely helps, and that’s partly why I always make sure to have a couple of Chinese dramas on my plate at any one time. Thanks for the recommendation of 最亲爱的你. I’ll keep it in mind, but I usually don’t do well with remakes (I get bored too easily), so I don’t have super high hopes for it, especially since you say that it’s quite a strict remake.

      I’ve got Mother, Signal, and Forest of Secrets on my list, so if you like those too, I’m hopeful that I will enjoy them too. 🙂 I’ve had vague plans to go back and check out Sandglass, but that will have to wait until my next Retro Watch Mood strikes. 😉 I’ve watched several Japanese dramas, but don’t watch them much anymore as I find it hard to keep up. So I’ve kept it to mainly Korean and Chinese dramas. But, if you’re looking for a fun J-drama, perhaps try We Married as a Job? It’s super cute and endearing. ❤

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  40. I am a fan of Misty, though I would’ve preferred the ending done slightly differently at least. Wanted to say that the ending was not a late-game change, I don’t know which actor made you feel that way? The set-up was already done early in the show for the ending, and the writer even expressed surprise that people could not guess with all the clues in the show. That is, if this is what you’re referring to.

    I ended up here as I’m a new c drama fan, after watching 3 c dramas, the latest being Nirvana in Fire. Was a devoted k drama fan but have no interest to return at the moment 🤣

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