Year In Review: 2020

What a surreal year 2020 has turned out to be, amiright?

It’s been the year of surprises and curveballs, and I think it’s safe to say that none of us has been unaffected by the events of 2020. As a small silver lining, with lockdowns taking place around the world, and Netflix promoting Asian dramas with unflagging enthusiasm, we’ve welcomed many new drama fans into our midst.

And, our dramas have not let us down. I mean, yes, there’ve been duds, but that’s true every year anyway, yes? 😉 I’m just happy that Dramaland has found a way to continue production while ensuring the safety of cast and crew, coz I know I’m not alone when I say that dramas have helped make 2020 better.

Now, let’s take stock of my drama year in 2020, before 2021 comes upon us!

I.. don’t think I have enough fingers for this..? 😅

Someday Or One Day OST – Title Track

MY DRAMA YEAR IN 2020

This has been a somewhat different drama year, for me.

With work getting put on hold indefinitely, I found myself able to blog full-time, literally. I experimented with allowing ads on the blog, and with putting out more frequent posts, in an attempt to test the blog’s potential as an actual income source. At the urging of some of you, I also got on Patreon. The short answer to how all of that went, is, blogging doesn’t seem quite viable as a job replacement sort of income, but I am still very grateful for the help that it does give me. The support that you guys have been giving me and the blog, absolutely does go towards keeping the blog up, and my lights on. Thank you so, so much. ❤️❤️

The funny thing, I realize, is that with the time I’ve put into writing more frequent posts, I’ve ended up checking out fewer dramas this year. While putting this post together, I realize that I mention fewer dramas in this year’s post, compared to last year’s, when I wasn’t actually blogging full-time. It’s the secret that nobody really tells you; blogging is time-consuming stuff, and it actually takes away from your drama hours. 😝

Happily, I still managed to check out a good number of dramas, and I did enjoy several lovely gems. What works for me, might not work for you, and vice versa, but I still hope this overview helps you to discover some great dramas to love.

In deciding on which dramas to watch, I did my best to balance my desire to follow my heart and just watch what I wanted to watch, with taking suggestions into account, and giving at least some attention to drama buzz. Because of this, I found myself enjoying some shows that I never expected to enjoy, but sometimes, I also found myself feeling unable to love a show that everyone else seemed to love. I guess that’s just how the cookie crumbles, since we’re all unique and different, right?

As always, I will be including dramas that started last year, but ended this year, in this post. It has always made more sense to me, to judge a drama only after it’s finished its run. It’s only fair, I think, since Dramaland has proven to us time and again, how a drama can bomb at the very last minute. 😜

THE ONES WORTH MAKING TIME FOR

Someday Or One Day [Taiwan]

Twisty and smart, yet completely heartfelt, this little show came out of nowhere and stole my heart, hook, line and sinker, to be my drama of the year. It’s SO good, you guys. ❤️❤️❤️ This show, its characters and its music just have a way of creeping under your skin and not letting go. Show is so well done, without feeling at all try-hard. Go in as blind as possible, then come back to read the review.

For the record, I also now have serious heart-eyes for male lead Greg Hsu. 😍 Swoon.

Grade: A+

Review: here.

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

Dark, whimsical and meaty, It’s Okay is more an enigmatic fairytale than an actual attempt at an accurate portrayal of mental disability. I think that’s important to know, going in. With that fairytale lens in place, there’re lots of goodies to enjoy. Show is very pretty to look at, the music is great, our three leads are each very excellent in their own ways, and the character and relationship journeys are satisfying to witness.

Our OTP is fantastic, but special shout-out goes to Oh Jung Se, who had me scraping my jaw off the floor, with his amazing portrayal of a character on the autism spectrum.

Grade: A

Review: here.

Hospital Playlist

Such warm, lovable goodness, all-around. It’s a treat to have an ensemble cast made up of such strong actors who also share such a natural, sparky chemistry that it’s easy to believe that they’ve known one another all their lives. Who knew a hospital drama could feel this warm and aspirational, while still acknowledging the difficulties that medical staff face? I never wanted this one to end, and I am very much looking forward to Season 2 in 2021.

Don’t be intimidated by the long episodes; you’ll grow to love this crew, and then the long episodes will feel more like a boon than a bane.

Grade: A-

Review: here.

A Couple’s World [World Of The Married]

Dysfunctional, compelling and intense, this show kept me on the edge of my seat, often with little idea of where it wanted to go next. Show is polished in every sense of the word, and feels sharper, smarter and darker than the average makjang – which is why I don’t actually consider this a makjang, despite its highly melodramatic narrative. Our talented cast puts in consistently excellent performances, but Kim Hee Ae is the undeniable stand-out, with her magnificent delivery of our protagonist’s multi-faceted journey.

Grade: A-

Review: here.

Crash Landing On You OST – But It’s Destiny

SOLID WATCHES I’D RECOMMEND

Crash Landing On You

Silly, slurpable and fun in its first half, and then serious and melodramatic in its second half, Show does suffer a bit from late-run drag, but is still a very enjoyable ride, overall. Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin make a great OTP, and together, they make all our favorite romantic tropes come alive with fresh appeal.

Our side characters bring a surprising amount of heart to our drama world; the North Korean ajummas are great, and our North Korean soldier puppy crew is endearing and adorable. And last but not least, I do think this is the swooniest and most appealing I’ve seen Hyun Bin, possibly ever. ❤️

Grade: B++

Review: here.

Stove League

Unlike most kdramas, this drama has no romance in it at all. Instead, it’s a great underdog story, whether you’re a baseball fan or not. Nam Goong Min is great as the GM who has the almost impossible task of turning a failing baseball team around, and the rest of the cast is very good too, from major characters to more incidental minor ones. Heartfelt and easy to root for, whether on or off the pitching mound.

Grade: B++

Flash Review: here.

My Unfamiliar Family

A show that feels like a meatier, grittier, more condensed take on the average family drama. Thoughtful writing combines with heartfelt performances from our cast to make this show feel raw and real where many family dramas feel stylized and a bit whitewashed, and altogether makes for a thought-provoking, heart-hitting sort of watch. Somewhat makjang in form, but definitely not makjang in spirit.

Grade: B++

Review: here.

Do You Like Brahms?

A story about introverts, for introverts. I really really liked how this one made me feel seen, understood and even celebrated, as an introvert. Kim Min Jae and Park Eun Bin are fantastic as our resident pair of introverts, and it’s just bonus that they make such a sweet pair of bashful lovebirds. The character and relationship journeys felt valid and easy to understand, to me as a fellow introvert. Not for everyone by any means, but extra precious, if you identify as an introvert.

Grade: B++

Review: here.

Itaewon Class

Even though revenge is one of the main narrative threads in this story, this was always more of an underdog story than a revenge one. Park Seo Joon is excellent as our protagonist, and the hodgepodge found family that he collects on his personal journey, really helps to make this drama world pop. I thought the main loveline was oddly handled, and I did feel like Show lost a bit of its charm towards the end, but this was still a very solid watch.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Hi Bye, Mama!

Bittersweet, sensitive and poignant, with lashings of levity, Show definitely knows how to serve up the feels. There are no bad guys in this drama world, only people who just happen to be on different sides of the fence, and all the complicated emotions that go with. Our cast delivers all those complicated emotions with aplomb, but shout-outs to Kim Tae Hee and Lee Kyu Hyung, who are literally the best I’ve ever seen them.

Not without its flaws, and Show could’ve been tighter overall, but still a very good ride.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

A Piece Of Your Mind

Rather abstract and therefore requires more than the average lens adjustment, but very sweet and warm, once you manage to make those adjustments. Jung Hae In and Chae Soo Bin are lovely in this, both individually and together. A very thoughtful thematic exploration of love and loss, as well as solitude and solidarity.

Not for everyone, since it’s admittedly rather abstract, but so worth it, if it works for you.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Find Me In Your Memory

A solid, sweet healing drama that doesn’t actually feel like a healing drama. Our story has quite a few tropes – a stalker arc being one of them – but manages to feel engaging and heartfelt, in spite of it all. Kim Dong Wook and Moon Ga Young share a sweet chemistry that makes for an OTP connection that feels natural, restrained and charming. As a bonus, Kim Seul Gi and Lee Jin Hyuk make a very cute and dorky secondary couple.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Mystic Pop-up Bar

A little silly, and a lot heartfelt, Mystic is, in part, a poignant story of personal journey, and in part, an endearing, heartwarming story of hodgepodge found-family. I found our main trio very winsome together, and, for the record, Hwang Jung Eum is great (and not at all screechy) in this. Despite its challenges, Show manages to serve up an ending that feels satisfying – even though it has to dodge some logical constraints in order to get there.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Into The Ring [Memorials]

Quirky and different, at its heart, Show is less about politics, than it is about daring to follow your heart, even when the odds are stacked against you. Nana is eccentric but winsome in this, and Park Sung Joon is wonderfully awkward and swoony, in his perfectly adorkable way. Unapologetically kooky, and yet, still deeply heartfelt.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Find Yourself [China]

A noona romance that, amazingly, manages to feel light and fluffy, and yet, thoughtful and introspective, at the same time. Song Wei Long brings more swoon to the table than I’d first imagined possible, while Victoria Song is charming yet grounded, and together, they make a very cute pair. Show’s second half is more muted than its initial slurpable, cracky stretch, but it all balances out to make this feel like an earthy fairytale.

Grade: B+

Review: here.

Flower Of Evil

Show can feel rather uneven with an overly analytical lens, so lens adjustment is a must. Despite its shortcomings, Show packs an emotional punch, and Lee Jun Ki and Moon Chae Won are both very excellent in this. Separately, they deliver the complexities of their characters’ journeys very well, and together, they are completely believable as a longtime married couple with a lot of history and feelings between them. Shout-out to lil munchkin Jung Seo Yeon, who plays their daughter. Her delivery is quite stunning, in spots.

Grade: B

Review: here.

Marry Me! [Japan]

Short, fluffy and angst-lite, Show is a fun, easy little marathon that manages to be full of heart, despite its simplistic approach to character and relationship development. Kumada Rinka is especially endearing as our female lead, and every time she smiled, I felt like my screen was exploding with puppies, kittens and rainbows. Sweet, easy and escapist.

Grade: B+

Flash Review: here.

Oh My Baby OST – Love Is All Around

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

When The Weather Is Fine

Slow, beautiful, and thoughtful in its first half, but angsty, melodramatic and a little scattered in its final stretch, Show was a mixed bag, for me. It felt like Show was trying to cover too many bases in a limited amount of screen time, and so in the final third or so, it felt like Show had lost focus, to me. I did enjoy Seo Kang Joon very much in this, and he was a big reason why I stayed with this show, even when it legit made me mad.

Grade: B

Review: here.

Record Of Youth

This one’s basically a Park Bo Gum showcase pretending to be a slice-of-life drama. Everything feels rather overly scripted, and the handling of the OTP relationship puzzled me. But, there are many opportunities for Park Bo Gum to shine in this, and the dramas within the drama were a personal highlight, for me, because it feels like we’re getting to see multiple Park Bo Gum dramas at the same time.

Grade: B

Review: here.

Hyena

Kim Hye Soo and Joo Ji Hoon share fantastic chemistry in this, and that about sums up Show’s appeal. Kim Hye Soo’s character in particular is painted in morally ambiguous colors, and her breaking the law &/or using people is served up as her being cool and badass. How well this sits with you, will determine how much you enjoy this show. It didn’t sit all that well with me, so I didn’t end up loving this one. But, I did like it fairly well, and I have to say that both Kim Hye Soo and Joo Ji Hoon put in very good performances.

Grade: B

Review: here.

The King: Eternal Monarch

A very ambitious drama that didn’t manage to sweep me off my feet or boggle my mind as it’d hoped to. The parallel universe thing is interesting until the logic fails to hold together, and in the meantime, things feel unnecessarily complicated. The OTP romance is intended to be epic, but it didn’t have enough context or lead actor chemistry to work for me. That said, I loved Kim Kyung Nam in this, and to a smaller extent, Woo Do Hwan too. Relatively pleasant, but definitely falls short of its aim to be monumental and mind-blowing.

Grade: B

Review: here.

Oh My Baby

Show is wonderfully slurpable, cute and cracky in its first half, but suffers from a slump in its second half, where things feel unnecessarily angsty. Our story still manages to feel reasonably cohesive, and our characters also feel reasonably consistent, though I did feel that our ending landed a bit oddly. On the upside, Jang Na Ra delivers a heartfelt, solid performance, and Go Joon is fantastically dorky and endearing when playing a guy in love.

Grade: B

Review: here.

The School Nurse Files

Unapologetically weird, dark and quirky, this show does not attempt to win you over; it just does its own thing and marches to its own rhythm, whether you “get it” or not. Hanging narrative threads abound, but Show doesn’t care about that. It is very strong in its metaphorical messaging though, and is therefore best viewed with a metaphorical lens.

(Dame Holly / LT’s guest review (link below) helps A LOT, if you’re trying to make sense of this one.)

Grade: B

Flash Review: here, Guest Review: here.

The Romance Of Tiger And Rose [China]

Silly, fluffy, and best viewed with a generous finger on the Fast Forward button. Zhao Lu Si is very cute in this, while Ding Yu Xi manages to deliver some surprising emotional heft, and together, they make a very cute couple. Our plot cycles in place a fair bit, and can feel repetitive, but this is easily fixed with judicious use of that Fast Forward button. Importantly, our story finishes in a way that makes sense, and delivers a happy ending that feels solid.

Grade: B

Flash Review: here.

Love Is Sweet [China]

Our story is tropey and silly, but the OTP chemistry in this is very strong, and it basically carries the entire show. Bai Lu and Luo Yun Xi share a chemistry that feels sparky and natural, and they make this OTP feel organic, melty and sometimes quite molten, even though the drama world itself feels anything but organic. Stuff can get unnecessarily angsty, particularly with our secondary characters, so this one is also best viewed with generous use of the Fast Forward button. The cute corgi earns this show an extra bonus point. 🐶

Grade: B-

Flash Review: here.

SHOWS THAT I DIDN’T FEEL WERE WORTH THE EFFORT, TO BE HONEST

My Holo Love

Show aims to be a sweet, simple romance with an A.I. twist, but the problem for me, is that the entire OTP relationship feels insufficiently supported by context. Both leads are reasonably solid and likable, but I found the OTP connection hollow and lacking. I also found the ending rather underwhelming, and it didn’t help that I often felt like Show was logic-challenged.

Grade: B-

Flash Review: here.

This Guy Is The Biggest Mistake In My Life [Japan]

I actually really liked it when Show was at its wacky weirdest, which was in its initial and final episodes. I liked Show’s middling middle a lot less. Without its blithely weird armor on, Show becomes a lot less entertaining, and a lot more troubling, with the behavior of its fetishizing male lead. I wanted it to be gloriously wacky all the way through, but some folks love this one as it is.

Grade: B-

Flash Review: here.

Love Lasts Forever [An Incurable Case Of Love] [Japan]

This one feels old-fashioned and predictable, with its tsundere male lead and earnest female lead. I think this is strictly for fans of the Mischievous Kiss sort of story, &/or fans of Sato Takeru’s brand of smolder. Best to avoid, if you do not identify as either.

Grade: B-

Flash Review: here.

ACTIVELY AVOID, IF YOU DRAMA TASTE IS LIKE MINE

When My Love Blooms

To be fair, some folks genuinely love this one. I just.. didn’t. I found this slow and lacking in payoff. I also found the premise problematic, with our male lead pursuing our female lead while married. If this isn’t a problem for you, and you’re in the mood for something slow and old-fashioned, and you don’t mind a disproportionate amount of suffering for your characters, you might like this.

Grade: C+

Flash Review: here.

Edited to add: Chocolate

I only got one episode into this, which is how I forgot to include this when I first published this post. 😅

Right off the bat, this feels very much in the tradition of Hyper Melos from the early 2000s, but – in my opinion anyway – not in a good way. Show serves up a lot of disaster and tragedy in just the first hour, and it’s hard to watch. But the real deal-breaker for me, is my personal aversion to Ha Ji Won as an actress.

Ha Ji Won’s character in this is supposed to be cute, I think, when she’s a patient in the hospital eating food off a random bench, but I don’t feel it, at all. I cringed through all the cutesy, and I couldn’t convince myself to go back for more.

(If you loved this, &/or are a Ha Ji Won fan, I’m sorry. 😝)

SHORT FORMAT DRAMA THINGS

A Jaunt [Drama Special]

A story of friendship found in unlikely places, Show is short, but impactful, poignant and touching. Jung Woong In and Son Sook do a great job with the short amount of screen time they have, and by the end of the hour, they had me by the heart.

Grade: B++

Flash Review: here.

Mute [Web Drama]

Light and easy, with some very pleasant music to go with, Show’s an easy watch despite the acting leaning rather green. Rather sweet in its theme, which makes up for Show’s rough edges.

Grade: B+

Flash Review: here.

Timing [Web Drama]

Bittersweet, poignant and thought-provoking, Show managed to linger with me, despite its heavy use of tropes. Impressively impactful, for its short running time.

Grade: B

Flash Review: here.

18 Again OST – Hello

SHOWS WHICH FEEL SOLID, BUT WHICH I JUST DIDN’T FINISH

Black Dog

I only got one episode into this, before I got distracted by newer and shinier shows. I did like the underdog quality of our story, and I felt like I’d be able to root for Seo Hyun Jin’s character, as she struggled to fit in at her new job. I also really liked Ra Mi Ran’s character, and I felt like there was lots of potential for a great friendship to develop between these two characters.

One episode in, this one felt like a potential B+.

JURY’S STILL OUT

More Than Friends

I’m not sure how I feel about this show. I find Ong Seong Wu’s character written and delivered too opaquely, and therefore I find his character hard to like. 10 episodes in, I don’t actively dislike any of the leads, but neither do I actually like them, either. I do find it interesting to analyze them to figure out why they behave the way they do, though. I am also rather invested in the arcs of our side characters, so I’m sticking with this one, for now.

10 episodes in, this one feels like a potential B.

18 Again

I love this show, you guys. There are lashings of silly, but by and large, this one is just so heartfelt and poignant. I love the emphasis on fatherly and familial love, which takes precedence over romantic love in this story. Our cast is very strong and I think our leads are great, but I have to admit that my heart-eyes are for Lee Do Hyun, who is blowing my socks off, in this. I literally don’t want this show to end.

14 episodes in, this feels like a solid A.

Edit: Review is here!

Lie After Lie

I really like this show, right away. It’s makjang in a way that really works for me; I feel immediately pulled into the dilemma and journey of our protagonist Lee Yoo Ri, whose daughter has been forcibly taken from her, after she’s been framed for murder. I can’t help rooting for her to overcome the injustices that have been done to her, even though she’s currently scheming to find a way to become her daughter’s stepmother.

5 episodes in, this feels like a potential B+ or B++.

Start-Up

I have to admit that I don’t have strong feelings for this show and its characters, despite almost everyone else in the dramaverse having deeply visceral reactions to this show. I’m trying to figure out how I feel about our two male leads (I think they’re both just ok, right now), but I do know that I love Kim Hae Sook as Gran in this. Gran basically has me by the heartstrings, and probably always will. So far, I find this show reasonably pleasant, but it’s not rocking my world, which I had hoped it would.

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

The Uncanny Counter

I’m so pleasantly surprised by how much I love this one. It feels consistently compelling and engaging, whatever angle Show is taking on in any particular moment. I love that Show balances the darker demon-chasing action with lots and lots of heart. I love the Counter crew, and I love So Mun’s friendship with his high school besties, and I hope Show stays this good all the way to the end.

5 episodes in, this one feels like a solid A.

Lovestruck In The City

I wasn’t going to check this out so soon, but all the chatter about Show’s mockumentary style got me intrigued. So far, I like it more than I thought I would. I feel like the mock interview approach, combined with flashbacks to actual events, provides quite a bit of potential to examine what makes people tick, and why they say the things they say, and do the things they do. I’m not sure where Show will take it from here, but so far, I like it reasonably well.

2 episodes in, this feels like a potential B or B+.

True Beauty

Despite being tropey and silly, and requiring a strong manhwa lens, this show somehow appeals to my inner tween. I want to root for our underdog ugly duckling, I find the two male leads pleasant to look at, and so far, Show’s been reasonably entertaining in a mindless, fluffy sort of way. I just wish Show’s episodes were shorter, to go with its fluffy personality.

2 episodes in, this feels like a potential B.

2020/2021 SHOWS STILL ON MY LIST

KOREA

Kairos I’ve heard so many good things about this one, that it’s tightly written and does a great job of managing the different timelines, and is well-acted too. Sounds super solid, and that makes me want to not miss out.

Mr. Queen This sounds potentially great, and I do enjoy Shin Hye Sun and Kim Jung Hyun. I am a little wary that the humor might not land well for me, but I’m definitely curious to give this a try.

Update: Review is here.

Zombie Detective Zombies are not my kind of thing, but I’ve heard that this one is funny and droll, and feels fresh. That sounds pretty promising.

Update: Flash Review is here.

Run On I wasn’t super interested in this one, but I’ve heard that this one is quirky in a way that’s reminiscent of Be Melodramatic, which I loved. So now I have to check it out, heh.

Update: Review is here.

CHINA

Go Ahead I’ve heard good things about this one, and several of you have specifically suggested this one to me, so I’m positively intrigued. I love a good family story, and this sounds like it’ll do nicely.

Dear Mayang Street I’ve heard some good things about this one, and it’s been mentioned in the same breath as Reply 1988 which I loved, so I’m curious to see if I’ll love this one too.

Sleuth Of The Ming Dynasty Some of you recommended this to me, saying that it’s got appealing leads, found family and bromance, all of which are things I enjoy in my dramas.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Whoop! We’ve made it to the end!!! 🎉🎉

Well. This has turned out to be a pretty decent list, after all, my friends. I managed to talk about 40 shows this year – well, 37, if we don’t count the short-format drama things. Not bad. It’s a little fewer than last year’s 41 shows (so I was right, that I checked out fewer shows this year), but I think it still gives a decent sampling of 2020’s drama offerings.

I realize that I spent a chunk of drama hours on older shows that aired before 2020 (like for our Chuno group watch), which didn’t make it into this post. And I’ve also been slightly more selective this year, and essentially managed to dodge several potential bombs by being late enough to the bandwagon with some shows, to know well enough not to start them, because they famously go off the rails. *cough* DoDoSolSolLaLaSol *cough* This is why I don’t have a Dropped section in this year’s post, which I’m really quite surprised by, since I’ve dropped quite a few shows in the last several years. I guess being late to the party does pay off, sometimes? 😉

[Edit: I did drop something after all! I’ve added Chocolate to the post, which brings my drama count – of stuff checked out, not necessarily completed – to 38, or 41, if we count the short drama things. Yay? 😅]

Thanks so much for your company on this journey, you guys. Your encouragement, support and your presence here on the blog, mean a lot to me. Thank you for sticking with me, through another year. 🥰 Here’s wishing us all a healthy, bright and hopeful 2021, in Dramaland and beyond. ❤️

I luff you guys.. ❤️

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Joab Stieglitz
3 months ago

I agree with every factor that you have pointed out. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts on this.
Please see also my blog,

Wonderful Review from New Fan

Thank you!

Alexandra
Alexandra
6 months ago

Hi, Fangirl!

I really like your blog that I discovered during lock-down after watching my first k-drama on Netflix. I liked many of your A and B++ dramas, except the ones with too much fantasy which isn’t my cup of tea. (I didn’t like as much as you did Someday or one day, although I agree the actors did a fine job, and I think that I won’t like that much 18 Again).
After discovering k-drama and your reviews I ended up binge watching a lot at night, I had a lot to catch up :). I think a saw at least fifty already (chosen mainly from your recommendations).

My favorites so far are:

CLOY
Hospital playlist
The Princess’ Man
Dr. Romantic 1 (you must give it a try, it is really good)
One spring day
Healer
Flower of Evil
Romance is a bonus book
Moonlight drawn by clouds
It’s ok not to be ok
Thank you
Go Ho’s Starry Night

I also liked Chuno, Do You Like Brahms?, To. Jenny, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Prison Playbook, Her Private Life, Touch Your Heart, We Married as a Job, Queen In-Hyun’s Man.

I’d like to check Nirvana in Fire after your enthusiastic review but I don’t like shows with many episodes, I don t have that patience.

Thank you for your in-depth reviews, they are so useful!

beez
6 months ago

Wow! You’ve picked a non-Korean drama as your pick of the year! That’s enough to make me watch my first modern day Chinese drama (I now have 3 and a half Chinese historical under my belt). So I’ll be watching Someday Or One Day (I can’t believe you picked it over Its Okay to not be Okay which is high praise indeed). I’ve been so adverse to any dramas other than Kdramas that I still haven’t watched my beloved Rain in Diamond Lover, but I’ll be watching Some Day before it and very soon.

Shin Hye sun is incredible in Mr. Queen and I predict (unless crazy Kdrama ending comes out of nowhere and blows it) that it will clean up at the award shows next year. Funny how it seems that my favorites are always those shows that start in one year and finish in the next.

As to that 1/2 Chinese drama that I’m watching – Oh My General – it’s a total hilarious hoot with all the old fashioned tropes done in role reversal. I never knew I’d enjoy a forced kiss so much (you know, the ol’ force a kiss until she melts and falls on love) only this time the perpetrator is our female General. Please don’t anyone take that serious as if I think anyone should be forcing themselves on another person, it’s just for so long, that is how movies/series portrayed the male warriors-helpless female relationship that this is just a hoot to watch.

Happy New Year, Kfangurl. I’m looking forward to your 2021 reviews!

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez. We miss you in the Chuno posts and hope you are doing well in general.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
6 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

I was worried about her too. Glad to hear she is OK.

BE
BE
6 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Thanks

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
6 months ago

Inspired by this post and other commenters, would like to add my 2020 list too! Gosh that’s a lot of dramas.

1) Crash Landing on You (A) – my gateway K drama! Love it for the feels and epic, swoony yet chaste romance.
2) The King: Eternal Monarch (B) – Started off epic and intriguing but lost the plot along the way. No OTP feels for me.
3)My Love From Another Star (dropped at penultimate episode) (B+) – I just couldn’t get onboard with this OTP, found female lead funny at times but annoying a lot of the time!
4) Healer (A+) – I came for the parkour and action, then was blown away by the story of past secrets and a romance that stole my heart! Thank you kfangurl for the recommendation
5) Misaeng (B+) – meaningful stories, but at times the pacing was so slow and so much minutiae of the working day was shown that I felt like I was also working in the office as I was watching it.
6) Are You Human Too? (B+/A-) – crackalicious, I felt this show was really creative, fresh and exciting new take on the android tale. I didn’t quite like the ending but I would still recommend the show overall.
7) She Was Pretty (B+/A-) – heartwarming but the extended deception by all the main characters was problematic for me, and also the second leads were so appealing that it almost made me feel the OTP should have gotten together with the second leads instead of each other.
8) Arang and the Magistrate (B) – I enjoyed the first half tremendously but the second half disappointed me as the character of Arang went from gutsy and spunky to passive, hesitant and given to noble idiocy. Lee Jun Ki was fabulous and so badass though!
9) It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (A-) I enjoyed it, especially the dark fairytale stories and their emotional resonance.
10) Flower of Evil (B+) – yes some story flaws but I enjoyed the ride, and the strong emotional connection between the leads as married couple. Less use of the hated “misunderstanding” trope than I expected.
11) Ancient Detective (B+) – can be a bit hokey in some parts but I greatly enjoyed the jianghu action, earnest main character and quirky supporting characters.
12) Nirvana in Fire!!!!! (A++++) – Oh. My. Goodness. Exceeded my expectations in every way, won my heart and trampled it with feels and killed off my interest in all other dramas for months after I was done. (Thank you kfangurl for this recc)
13) Someday or One Day (A+) – Another big thank you kfangurl for this recc. Such a satisfying story and lovely, lively friendships and relationships. Will also spoil me off other dramas for a long time to come.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
6 months ago

Happy new year! Here is my musical tribute to Zombie Detective:

https://soundcloud.com/snow_flower_piano/zombie-noir

mrs_ser
mrs_ser
6 months ago

I absolutely love your blog.

Thank you for all your hard work this year, I have found lovely dramas to occupy my time throughout the oddity that was 2020.

Looking forward to your work in 2021!

phl1rxd
6 months ago

Happy New Year Fangurl!

The last year has been pretty tough for all of us and thank goodness we had dramas to help lift our spirits. I only watched 76 dramas this year and dropped 19 (although it feels like I dropped more). I found that I craved comedy dramas as I really needed a good laugh while in quarantine. Some of my top dramas were recommendations from other commenters.

These are my favorites for the year
CLOY – KDrama at its finest
Stranger 2 – worth every minute of screen time
Ancient Detective – visually beautiful and always interesting (thank you Timescout)
Into the Ring – great snarky humor and I loved it (thank you SKF)
Love is all – I really needed this drama for the laughs. (thank you SKF)
Zombie Detective – I could not wait for new episodes to come out every week
Winter Begonia – visually beautiful and great performances by all the actors
Hot Stove League – great story and great acting

My favorite movie of the year is Parasite and my favorite variety show remains as Master in the House.

Here is hoping that 2021 is a better year!

Annette Chung
6 months ago

Great post! I’m seeing that your taste has indeed changed, and that’s neither a good thing or a bad thing. Just you doing you. I’m more of a romance fan so I’m always watching out for those. 2020 is a mixed bag. I guess it’s because I went into kdrama and cdrama late in the game and only recently caught up on all the “big guns” that you have recommended. Now it’s like fishing season. Sometimes you get a good catch, sometimes you don’t.

I’m currently watching Love and Redemption (available on Netflix) and it’s been mentioned in the same breath as Eternal Love: Ten Miles of Peach Blossom and Ashes of Love. I know you’re not into AoL, but you did love EL:TMoPB so… maybe? Just a suggestion. 🙂 I like it so far.

I already have a chunk of dramas to watch, thanks to you, kfangurl. Haha… it never ends. Thank you for doing what you do. ^^ Happy New Year!

seankfletcher
6 months ago

A very Happy New Year to you kfangurl 🥳🎉🥳

One of the anomalies of the bloggersphere is that writing posts are time consuming and disproportionate to the time required for other activities 😂

I appreciate the greater number of posts by you. The diversity of genres, styles and change ups regarding your interaction with your community has been awesome. Keep testing and changing things up. I admire your tenacity and willingness to see what will work.

Lololol re Do Do. I have described this as the cutest filler drama you will ever watch – yes, I watched it and agree with many it should have stopped at episode 12 😂🤔🤣

It turns out I watched less this year – whereas I should have watched more. However, I was very fortunate to find myself busier work wise than I wanted to be. So, I have fallen behind in some drama viewing areas. That aside, the garden at home has benefited immensely and on the music front, perhaps some interesting news later in the year.

Drama wise, I found 2020 was a very mixed bag. There were some excellent dramas, ones that are keepers in my book, for all eternity. However, I experienced extensive gaps in my viewing. I found dry wells for at least two months at a time, where as other viewers seemed to enjoy an oasis or two.

Zombie Detective is worth a look. I enjoyed the very different take on the genre 🤩

I am enjoying the Uncanny Counter so far, but I wouldn’t rate it as highly as some. Run On is good, well, very good in fact (despite some of the frustrating habits re the ML). Aside from its cast and fine performances, I am so so re Mr Queen so far.

There are some intriguing dramas ahead with a couple of actors who are continuing to diversify their careers, which is really welcome in my book ☺️

C’est magnifique – So, here is to another fine year of drama viewing and interactions with you, and others on The Verdict 😉

MC
MC
6 months ago

Hello KFG! Happy new year! For obvious reasons my drama watching has slowed wayyyyyyyy down (since my rare free time is usually spent sleeping or household stuff or attending to non baby matters) but I did manage to catch 3 from this year and a few others from previous years (Healer, I Hear Your Voice) etc. Out of the 3 from this year I shouldn’t have bothered with When My Love Blooms lol. But CLOY and Hospital Playlist are both so good (in very different ways). I really need to find time to watch Someday or Another Day, it has always been on my list but with your A+ rating… it’s seriously getting bumped up up up. I’m finally done with IHYV and will comment over there but short answer is, it’s really good 🙂 And also thanks for the short drama list! It is much longer than I expected and yes very useful for times when you can’t commit to a long drama. Thanks so much for that! Love to you and may your work situation improve.. though with the shutting of borders it may be hard.. but still may 2021 be a better year for all of us!

Prashil Prakash
Prashil Prakash
6 months ago

Hi kfangurl!

2020 was a burning garbage truck as a year but it still is the year that introduced me to kdramas.

Being more into Anime, I generally used to avoid k-dramas and had a perception that they are cheesy and cringe.

Of course the names didn’t help either.
Popular names like “My love from Another star” and “Boys over flowers” always used to give yucky vibes for having weird titles and I always steered clear of them.

But for some unknown reason(lockdown,lol), I made a mistake of checking out “My love from the stars” and even though I found some things problematic, I saw something in that show which was I was not ready for.
Something I couldn’t pinpoint even.( Although Jun ji Hyun was definitely one of them)

I finished the show in 3 days and started on my Mad journey of binging shows.

It took me a few shows to finally Tap into real great shows, and that was when I finally saw ‘My Mister’

And my love of that beautiful show led me to YOU!

Your reviews and recommendations were my go to source for kdramas! And with so many Garbage recommendations out there (oh God they’re ALL soo bad), Your Page became my only hope!

Our views on drama aren’t the same but still its still a voice of reason for me.

Honestly the problem with k drama community I have seen is pretty similar to kpop at times and a lot of bad dramas have rabid fanbases.
(I still can’t believe people call ‘Secret Garden’ the best show, yuck)
(Also we live in a Reality where “Be Melodramatic” had a 1 percent viewership, A show which is a Masterpiece to say the least)

Almost 45 shows in and I wanna say-
Thanks for existing!

Even though our views aren’t 100% same, you still are ALWAYS my ‘Go to’ whenever I want to dip my toes into something.

Oh, I also found out Dame Holly’s page because of you and really enjoy her thoughts as well.

Have a lovely year ahead (fingers crossed)
And once again thanks

Cheers.😊
Prashil

MyKDramaticLife
MyKDramaticLife
6 months ago

27 new dramas and 23 older ones. A total of 50 dramas. 😊 Plus 2 favorite rewatches: Another Oh Hae Young (10+/10) and Marriage Not Dating (10/10). 😊

Restless but definitely worth it. 😍

To more dramas next year!

#MyKDramatic2020
#MyKDramaticLife<3

MyKDramaticLife
MyKDramaticLife
6 months ago

23 OTHER DRAMAS I finished this year:

PERFECT:
•Vagabond (10) (seriously? Where is the season 2? 😔 😀)
•49 Days (10) (I have so much for this show. 😍 Already made to my top 10 favorites)

LOVED IT:
•The Last Empress (9.5)
•Graceful Family (9)
•Shining Inheritance (9)
•Strangers from Hell (8.5)

LIKED IT:
•Doctor John (8)
•My ID is Gangnam Beauty (8.5)
•Tale of Nokdu (8.5)
•When the Camellia Blooms (8.5)
•Boksoo’s Back (8.5)
•Doctors (8)
•Save the Last Dance for Me (8)
•Couple Fantasy (8.5)
•The Fiery Priest (7.5)

GOOD:
•Mr. Sunshine (7)
•Shine or Go Crazy (7.5)
•Terius Behind Me (7.5)
•The Light in Your Eyes (7.5)
•Priests (7)
•Moon Embracing the Sun (7.5)
•Uncontrollably Fond (7)
•Saimdang: Light’s Diary (7.5)

MyKDramaticLife
MyKDramaticLife
6 months ago

“Best Korean Dramas of 2020”

A Piece of Your Mind (6) (just boring for me. lol)
Find Me in Your Memory (6.5)
World of the Married (6.5)
The King: Eternal Monarch (7)
Woman of 9.9 Billion (7)
The School Nurse Files (7) (I would have enjoyed it more if I have more open mind like others. Haha)
She Knows Everything (7.5)
Train (7.5) (YSY is just damn hot here 😍)
To All the Guys Who Loved Me (7.5) (could have been better drama)
Oh My Baby (7.5)
Black Dog (7.5) (an unusual school drama featuring teachers)
Sweet Munchies (7.5)
Crash Landing on You (8) (another damn hot performance from dearest Hyun Bin)
Hospital Playlist 1 (8) (lovers of Reply series will surely love this one too)
Kingdom 2 (well season 1 is gorier and scarier than 2, but still enjoyed it)
365: Repeat the Year (8.5)
Flower of Evil (8.5)
Tell Me What You Saw (8.5)
Eccentric Chef Moon (8.5) (Eric is definitely hot in here too. 😍)
Mystic Pop Up Bar (8.5) (havent expected much from this show. But Hwang Jung Eum is stunning and fantastic as always 😊)
Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim 2 (8.5) (I wanted more medical dramas like this. Just heartfelt.)
It’s Okay to Not be Okay (9) (Moon Gang Tae. Moon Sang Tae. Ko Mon Young. 😍)
Backstreet Rookie (9) (definitely not everyone’s style of romcom. But it made me cry and laugh at the same episodes so many times.)
Start-Up (9) (INSPIRATION AWARD goes to this one. #TeamDoSanForever. 😍 HAHA.)
Psychopath Diary (9) (amazing performance by YSY, and a very crazy plot story. Definitely enjoyable!)
When the Weather is Fine (9) (silent but heartbreaking, calm yet beautiful. I just loved this show.)
Itaewon Class (9.5) (I always feel proud to have watched Itaewon. It wasn’t on my watchlist when it aired. So thankful to the buzzes of its avid viewers, I got to see this wonderfully-made Itaewon Class. 😍😍😍)

Asperugo
Asperugo
6 months ago

Happy New Year and thank you! When I fell into the kdrama hole in late February, I found these yearly round-ups really helpful. First I went through 2019 list and watched the most interesting ones, then moved to 2018 and so on. Hopefully in 2021 I will be able to continue watch some older favorites as well as brand new ones.

For me CLOY was the best drama of the year. It just had everything I could have ever hoped for a tv-show and on a personal level it really resonated with me. I also really enjoyed Extracurricular, TKEM, Itaewon Class, Mystic Pop-Up Bar, School Nurse Files, Forest of Secrets 2 and Zombie Detective.

Hospital Playlist was good, but I just can’t get behind the Song-Hwa/Ik-Joon -pairing. I started to feel that the whole point of the show was just getting them together. I wish they had stayed friends. Chocolate was a bit too melodramatic for my taste. I barely finished Holo My Love and agree with your assessment.

I dropped IOTNBO after episode 7, because it started to feel too heavy at the moment. I can see why people loved it and it probably resonated with them the same way CLOY did with me. Maybe I’ll finish it some day.

C-dramas that I really liked were Begin Again and Oh, My Sweet Liar! Especially the latter deserved more buzz, imo. The story was entertaining and not too long at 29 episodes. Instead of hiring big name leads, they spent budget on other things, like costumes and sets. The wedding scene was absolutely beautiful and the show felt overall more expensive than most of the similar web costume dramas.

Ele Nash
6 months ago

Happy New Year, kfangurl! Great roundup that makes me want to watch even more than I have this year!

As a new person to the world of kdrama, brought to it via cdrama The Rise of Phoenixes and Ten Miles of Peach Blossom, I have spent most of 2020 catching up on some classics – like the sublime Money Flower and Chuno (leading to an obsessive amount of time avidly watching Jang Hyuk 😍) I also have got stuck on countless others, relieved to come across your reviews. I don’t know anyone in ‘real life’ as into Asian drama so to find you and all the others who comment has been such a joy.

Between a heady mix of Healer, A Beautiful Mind, Empress Ki, Signal, I did watch some 2020 shows and loved especially It’s Okay Not to be Okay. Looking forward to 2021 and all the new shows to fall in love with.

Thank you again for all your hard work! Your dedication really has made such a difference to what would otherwise have been a grey, impossible year. 👏👏👏👏

Ele Nash
6 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Ooh, great you’re watching The Rise of Phoenixes!! It does so many things right – gorgeous visually, great chemistry, brilliant acting – but, argh, the ending… Be so interested to read your take on it. And, yes, your posts are very useful and important indeed! 😊

Lee Tennant
Lee Tennant
7 months ago

This all just makes me realise how much I didn’t watch this year (not to reference another website but I only got 7 beans). Although I’m a bit the same in that I did so much more writing this year and so ended up watching less dramas.

What I did finish I really loved though. That has to count for something.

There is one fantastic drama missing from this list and that was Forest of Secrets 2. It was just as brilliant (if not even more so) than its first season and I think it was this year’s best drama. I know that crime dramas aren’t really your thing but FoS2 and Nobody Knows are such great shows – you should give them a try.

Other than that, I absolutely loved Someday or One Day, APOYM, School Nurse Files (as everyone knows) and Extracurricular, which I suspect may not be your cup of tea but that I thought was excellent.

I really need to get around to watching Hosplay and IOTNBO since they’re almost universally lauded but when they aired I was too busy to watch them. Your rating encourages me to finally get to them as well.

j3ffc
7 months ago

Thanks for your work all year long and for taking the time to put together such a useful summary. Currently watching “Someday or One Day” and “It’s OK….” now (plus my weekly Chuno assignment, which is usually on the exercise bike time). Life is a bit challenging now, so while my time to watch these shows is limited, they do provide a welcome distraction. Thanks for the suggestion as I would have never sought out “Someday” on my own (on ep 5).

Best wishes to all for a healing 2021.

Timescout
7 months ago

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that 2021 will be less stressfull for everyone.

As you know, I haven’t been watching much of anything this year but looks like I managed to bag at least 4 dramas from your list. 😀 I dropped SO many of those I tried. Not that it actually surprised me as that’s been the trend for a while now.

Some Day or One Day is definitely one I’m going to give ago some time in the future. Kairos, Mr Queen and Run On are on the list as well. We’ll see how extensive my “drama break” ends up being. 🙂

I really liked Go Ahead to begin with but lost interest fast once the pointless love triangle started. Another drama I did not finish. Also tried Dear Myang Street but it didn’t grab me enough to continue. Same for Sleuth Of The Ming Dynasty, which actually wasn’t too bad but didn’t much differ from countles other similar “historical” mystery/detective dramas that aired 2020. I think I sampled most of them. 😉 My pick is hands down Ancient Detective which also had appealing leads, found family (of sorts), bromance and some romance too. All the charaters were memorable and unique in their own ways. Plus it looks so good! TPTB made most of the small budget they had.^^ I think AvenueX actually listed all the things I liked about Ancient Detective in her cdrama picks of 2020 video. 🙂

Timescout
6 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Yes, I was quite disapointed with the direction Go Ahead went after the very enjoyable start. I rather loved that little found family. Then it all came to a sort of screeching halt and I didn’t care for what came after. Especially as it all felt so manufactured and pontless.

Well, I hope Ancient Detective lands positive for you too, but mileages vary so you never know. 😉

Timescout
6 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

I started watching Ancient Detective with no expectations. I’d read few very positive comments so I was kinda curious and then got hooked right from the beginning. I loved the opening credits! 😁

Sharra
Sharra
6 months ago
Reply to  Timescout

Same here with Go ahead really enjoyed it at the beginning. Particularly,liked the FL’s father but bailed as soon as I realised there was a triangle happening. Felt it was incestous even though I know they aren’t biologically related. Not sure why they couldn’t have had different love interests.

Sharra
Sharra
7 months ago

Happy New year! I can’t believe I am actually commenting on a year in review in post. The amount of times this year I have poured over your year in reviews to work out what to watch next. Also delighted that I have watched quite a few on your list!

You are so right that Netflix bought K dramas in people’s lives. I started watching in February 2020 and haven’t looked back and that is because CLOY and Itaewon Class were trending in the U.K.

Just to add as well , I in no way take for granted the amount of time it must take the crafting of your reviews. You write so beautifully and connect so many people. My drama viewing experience is enhanced by your reviews. And I think I would have been at a loss in the pandemic without K dramas and you.

I have also not mentioned this before but sometimes if I read your review first and then watch a B – drama I really enjoy it as I know where the flaws are and have already decided if it is deal breaker. For example I really enjoyed watching Hotel de Luna but I know I would have been frustrated without reading your review as it could been in A with better directing clearer writing and I think it would have made me mad without your caveat s.

Looking forward to your reviews in 2021!

CarpControl
CarpControl
7 months ago

Hello KFG!!~
What a brilliant post….. thank you for this year-end compilation, I’m just here to cherry-pick out of this list, because heaven knows, our choices overlap more often than not!.. ❤ First of all, congratulations to you (and the rest of the community), for surviving 2020!! And also making significant growth on the blog this year!….
I am SO happy to find 18 Again (admittedly one of the most heart-warming dramas of this year, for me) land up with a potential-A with you! LDH honestly did hit it out of the park with this one, and I was kinda scared you wouldn’t like it as much! 🙁
[looking out for our favourites, eh?]

I really, reallyyyy think ‘joining the party/bandwagon late’ helps us avoid quite a bit of dud, All the parties you are late at, is worth holding out for, to save your time in the long run!…. this is coming from someone who is LOVING Mr. Queen, and finds SHS’s portrayal of FOUR different personalities, is totally EATING UP KJH’s screen-presence, (despite him being such a good actor)….but also having no idea where it’s headed, and if the 20 episodes would payoff ultimately. 😬
However, they have removed almost ALL of the toilet/ cheap/ b-grade humour from the original c-drama, so it doesn’t appear as problematic [cue: the style of ‘humor’ in SWDBS] Hope, I have assuaged a tiny bit of your apprehension! 🙂

Cheers to 2021….hope the new year brings us more amazing dramas to enjoy! 😀 😀

snow
7 months ago

It’s funny that your ‘less number of dramas this year’ is like my dream number! 😛 Way higher than what I watched this year…hehe

Such a nicely put year end review! Yay that we both loved /liked similar shows 🙂

Kairos is definitely a solid watch.

I watched Run On ep1…but surely it did not give me Be Melodramatic vibes (I love that show)…leads are eccentric a bit but there were some elements that I did not enjoy and also I felt that the execution was a bit lazy. I might check it out later as everyone seems to like it 😀

Hoping for more drama watching and blogging in 2021!

Happy New Year dear 🙂

Kay
Kay
7 months ago

Wonderful year in review! You got in a lot of dramas and a lot of great ones at that. From your list, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, Flower of Evil, and Start-Up were some of the best for me. I also really enjoyed Find Me in Your Memory, Mystic Pop-Up Bar, and The King: Eternal Monarch. Crash Landing On You was pretty good too.

I also have quite a few I still need to watch. Kairos, True Beauty, and Mr. Queen for sure. I too am not really into zombies, but I need to give Zombie Detective a look after all of the praise.

Thank you for all of your wonderful, in-depth, and thoughtful reviews. They are always helpful if I am undecided on whether I want to give a drama a chance. Happy New Year, and let’s hope 2021 is better for all of us 🙂

Growing Beautifully
7 months ago

Thanks so much Kfangurl for your lovely, detailed reviews and this blog, and of course for your Year in Review with which I find myself mostly agreeing, where I’ve managed to watch the same shows.

Your opinion of Start Up makes me feel a bit less like I’m making a mistake by choosing not to watch it, and your review of Someday or One Day has got me putting it down on my list of shows to watch. I mean, you do not give an A+ lightly, now, do you!!

Have a happy and blessed New Year, and may we enjoy many more good shows in the good company of all who pass this way!!

BE
BE
7 months ago

I am always a year behind, but you have given me a few from this year to check out.

I would like to say, although I believe it is probably built upon the first series of 2016, Han Seok Kyu’s performance in Dr. Romantic, a B to B+ hospital melodrama, was nothing short of spectacular. I also liked the OST, especially this song, which I thought was the best popular song music I heard in what I saw of this year’s offerings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3z9DH155kI

As far as jaw dropping performances, I would most certainly say Oh Jung Se in It’s Okay and Kim Hee Ae in The World of the Married were beyond great.

I have to get back to Stove League and am intrigued by two or three others including one you are watching so I will be ready when your review is out.

Finally, thank you so much KFG, queen, what a good job you have done this year, how hard you have been working, so proud of you, delivering such an overwhelming amount of content for us all, and being a part of your following.

Best wishes for a happy new year.

Trent
7 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Ooh, I’m right there with you as far as anticipating season 2 of Hospital Playlist, because I loved the first season a lot. Saw a report that they’re supposed to have the first script read next week, and start filming the week after that?

I’m not usually into hospital procedurals, so ironically it was the good vibes from Hospital Playlist that have me thinking of giving Dr. Romantic 1 & 2 a try at some point, because I also have read lots of good things about the two series.

BE
BE
7 months ago
Reply to  BE

I would like to add that Bae Doo Na in Stranger 2, a bit convoluted prosecutor/cop drama with excellent cast work, turned in her regular superb kind of pro’s pro performance.

And I thought Kingdom, albeit season 2 really just an installment on a longer piece, was terrific. I know one might have qualms about a zombie sageuk, but the show runners and ensemble make it work very well.

j3ffc
7 months ago
Reply to  BE

Hear hear on Kingdom; for a horror show, which is not usually my cuppa, I thought it was very well done. Hopefully they’ll be able to finish that thing as I’m very curious to know what Jun Ji-hyun’s character is all about. It is also the first time I’ve seen Bae Doo Na in a drama and I was very impressed (enough to check out Stranger 1 sometime in the nearish future).

poopqueenieweenie
poopqueenieweenie
6 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

Stranger is one of my favorite dramas of ALL time, and I think that is saying something, since I’ve been watching them since 7 years now, ahahha. Such a refined plot with great acting, and manages to tie all loose ends well by the end, I’d say it is a must watch for all kdrama addicts!

Noona
Noona
7 months ago

Happy new year!

Trent
7 months ago

Thank you for the effort you put into these, and for this very handy annual retrospective! (I’m currently contemplating my own end-of-year summary and ranking, so it’s good to see someone else’s stab at it).

Thank you for highlighting Someday or One Day, which I doubt I would have ever heard of otherwise, but you are so laudatory I feel like I kind of have to put it on my “to watch” list.

Oh, and along those lines, I don’t know if I would have ever stumbled across Healer, or been interested in it, but you and others here spoke so highly of it that I started it last week and ended up binge-ing it all within a week. Really great stuff, and Park Min-young is adorable in it.

Of the ones you list that I’ve seen:
I agree with you on It’s Okay to Not be Okay, which might be (probably is) my top pick of the year. Loved it; thought Seo Ye-ji was amazing, etc.

I would put CLOY somewhat higher; I thought it did a lot of things right, I really actually got into the melodrama in the last few eps, and I felt the OTP just had really great chemistry (I liked Hyun Bin so much more in this than in Memories of the Alhambra).

I might put Itaewon Class just a tick or so higher, but I think I generally agree with where you have it, and particularly that it lost some focus near the latter stages.

I would definitely bump Flower of Evil up; as I mentioned before, the logic leaps didn’t bother me as much, and I was really moved by the connection between the male and female leads.

I would also probably bump The King: Eternal Monarch up a bit, just because I liked the concept and the world-building, even though it’s execution wasn’t as great as it could be. This also gets bonus points from me because it was my threshold or doorway drama.

Of the unfinished roster: Start-up, I liked fine. I was generally indifferent to the main romance conflict; as I said elsewhere, the best relationship in the show is easily the one between Grandma and Ji-pyeong, and I liked it for its family reconciliation and found family threads more than anything.

I am not as head over heels as everyone else seems to be with Uncanny Counter, but that said, I am enjoying it quite a bit, and like you, I hope it manages to finish out the second half running strong.

I wasn’t going to watch Mr. Queen at first, but the ratings have been so strong and it seems to be getting a lot of love, so I’ve watched the first two eps, and I have definitely encountered a number of laugh-out-loud moments, and am more than intrigued enough to continue and see where it goes. So far, Shin Hye-sun (female lead) in particular is doing a really impressive job portraying a modern male libertine trapped in a female Joseon royal’s body.

Like you, I have Zombie Detective on my to watch list. Not the sort of thing I would normally watch, but I’m interested enough to at least give it a try at some point.

And yes, DoDoSolSolLaLaSol could have been perfectly enjoyable light fluff if it had just stayed in its lane and not screwed up its ending so bad. Poor Go Ara, this role really suited her, too (having just recently finished Black, I almost feel compelled to search out Reply 1994 just to see if she gets to be in a drama that doesn’t have a trash-fire ending).

BE
BE
7 months ago
Reply to  Trent

She is okay in Miss Hammurabi (a B level social justice, feminist prosecutor melo) with Sung Dong Il, who is very good in it, albeit she was a bit upstaged at times by the supporting cast.

Trent
7 months ago
Reply to  BE

Yeah, I saw that Miss H was on the list of dramas she’s been in, and I think I kind of shied away from it because I have a bit of built in aversion to legal dramas. I mean, that aversion can be overcome if there’s a good draw: I did watch Lawless Lawyer, for example, just because I was still mesmerized by Seo Ye-ji from It’s Okay, and also it looked like maybe a fresh take, with the scrappy street lawyer angle and all.

BE
BE
7 months ago
Reply to  Trent

There is a bit of run of the mill to MH, albeit one of the cases highlighted a distinct South Korean social problem well; some of it, as is typical, about sexual and age bias among the prosecutors themselves. But besides the one case, I felt dealing with these issues was not as hard hitting as they deserved to be. Sung Dong Il is quite good, especially in the second half of the series, and the supporting cast is also quite good. I felt there was almost zero romantic chemistry between two leads, albeit solid and deep friendship vibes. It was entertaining, but not breathtakingly so.

Trent
7 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

I did like PMY as Secretary Kim, but I thought the role in Healer just gave her more range to work with (plus overall I got more enjoyment out of Healer than Secretary Kim). I had already penciled Sungkyunkwan Scandal onto my “to watch” list, but being reminded of PMY’s awesomeness has bumped it up a couple of notches as far as prioritization!

I think you have definitely identified one of the crucial causes of why I’m being a bit more forgiving in my evaluation of dramas, and that is our relative familiarity with kdramas. I watched a total of 28 dramas this year (which seems like a lot to me!), and even in that (relatively) small pool, I am already very much noticing common tropes and devices (amnesia! time skips! love triangles! meaningful childhood connections! I could go on…). So things that still seem fresh or relatively new to me, I can imagine someone who has several hundred dramas under their belt is going to require a much more elevated level of execution or originality or whatever to get a new drama into the top tier in their estimation, right? So that’s quite understandable.

I do have both of the remaining Reply dramas on my list, although that “to watch” list is just getting so darn long! What to do?! I think I have probably already been spoiled about who Go Ara’s character ends up with in Reply 1994, just because of their cameo appearance in Reply 1988, but it’s okay, I don’t really make that a major focus of my watch motivation. (For example, I understand the fan wars over the love triangle in Start-up were intense, whereas I mostly liked both male leads and wasn’t strongly invested in the romance at all. (I am glad to see Kim Seon-ho’s popularity exploding, because I like him a lot; like I said before, Grandma/Ji-pyeong is the real MVP relationship in that show, anyway)).

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
7 months ago

Happy New year, Kfangurl! Let’s hope that in 2021 all the drama stays on the streaming sites and not in our lives!

I am participating in the epic Chuno rewatch, in addition to finishing Kairos. I am interested in Some Day or One Day, Mr. Queen, and The Uncanny Counter. I also finished a new piano piece inspired by Zombie Detective.

merij1
merij1
7 months ago

By tomorrow night we will finish Someday Or One Day.

It’s so good! I can’t explain why, since it is a show you shouldn’t know anything about when you watch it.

Suffice to say, do!

Nancy T Chua
Nancy T Chua
7 months ago

Happy New Year !!! Let’s all hope for a better brighter 2021 <3 , I will now add some of your solid that i purposely missed for this and that reason. hahaha

Natalia
Natalia
6 months ago
Reply to  Nancy T Chua

Happy New Year everyone!
I haven’t watched all the shows on your list Kfangurl, but it will serve as a valuable guide, as always. It’s fun to see we are currently in the middle of watching more or less the same shows. Regarding True Beauty, it makes me wonder whether I will ever be too old/mature to enjoy high school dramas! I think I should also try 18 Again, since you all seem to like it.
My favourite show of 2020 was It’s Ok, and of course I loved CLOY, which is trending again, as you can imagine. There were many shows I dropped as well, though, the most notable one being The King. Others, I watched to the end out of “loyalty” for the leads (eg Backstreet Rookie). If you add though all the horror shows this year (including the masterpiece “Kingdom”), this was a good year in Kdrama, I think.
So, once again, all my best wishes for 2021!