I discovered your blog after watching Crash Landing on You and searching for reviews online. After that I immediately would read your reviews after watching a show and using your ratings for recommendations. I absolutely love your format and style of writing. I have some questions I am highly curious about.
What are the shows you have dropped which are not on the list of shows. This started after I watched Goblin and was searching for your take. It wasn’t on the list and learned reading one of your year end recaps that it was not for you. This got me curious to know which shows you have tried and dropped. No need to write any review or explanation, just a straight up list would be great.
What are shows you dropped but plan to continue. I read on one of your replies that you eventually plan to return to Dear My Friends (a show I loved) and Signal (I loved it as well.) What are famous shows that you have no intention of watching. I remember mentioning Kingdom. Are shows like Dr Romantic and Stranger included in this list?
They don’t have to be 100% complete and maybe they could also help as well by lessening the number of requests you get from new members wondering about some old shows.
Of course if this is too time consuming or not something you are interested in answering then no problem whatsoever.
Thank you again for the wonderful reviews.
I’m glad Crash Landing on You led you to my little corner of the interwebs, and I’m really happy to hear that you’re enjoying the reviews! ❤️
Thanks for the great question; you are absolutely right, there are a lot of shows that I haven’t written about, and it’s true that I often get asked about the same shows, because I don’t have a post dedicated to answering the question!
I’m going to take this opportunity to mention as many of those shows as possible, so that it will be a mystery no longer! 😃😉
REASONS I HAVEN’T REVIEWED THESE SHOWS
There are several different reasons why I might not have written about a show. The shows on this list all fall into one of the following categories:
1. I haven’t seen it yet – but I plan to.
Despite my best efforts, it is literally impossible for me to watch all the shows that pique my interest in some way. This is how I haven’t watched some of Dramaland’s more iconic shows.
2. I haven’t seen it yet – and don’t plan to.
Even though I run a drama blog, I don’t make it my business to attempt to watch everything that Dramaland has to offer, because that’s not humanly possible.
Also, I want to watch stuff that I enjoy, and the truth is, not all shows appeal to me.
I like to make exceptions for really good shows that happen to be out of my wheelhouse, but there are just some genres that aren’t my thing, and are unlikely to ever be my thing.
3. I attempted it – but it didn’t work for me
..and I didn’t write a Dropped post, either because I hope to give it another try sometime, or because I thought including a blurb in the year-in-review post would suffice.
4. I finished it – but somehow didn’t manage to get around to writing the review,
..either because I watched it before starting the blog (quite possible since I watched dramas seriously for 5 years before it occurred to me I might like blogging about them), or because I got busy with Real Life and newer shows, and never went back to write the review.
DRAMAS I HAVEN’T REVIEWED
Here’s my “status update” on 50(!!) shows – mostly, dramas that people tend to ask me about, and also, shows that I’d like to give shout-outs to, but which I’m unlikely to write reviews for.
There are admittedly many more shows that I’ve either sampled or watched to completion, which I am not including in this list, because I gotta stop somewhere, yes? 😅
For easy reference, I’m putting everything in alphabetical order.
100 Days My Prince
This one flew under the radar for me, and even though I’ve heard a smattering of positive reactions to this one, it’s not enough to pique my interest, so I’m unlikely to check this one out.
A Little Thing Called First Love [China]
I attempted the first episode, but somehow this one doesn’t grab me.
When I watched that first episode, I thought that most likely I was over the ugly-duckling-meets-cute-boy tropey drama set-up, but as it turns out, I’m enjoying True Beauty quite well right now, so I think there’s something about the execution that makes this one not pop, for me.
Arsenal Military Academy [China]
I’m partway through this show, and have paused it for now. It’s well-made and polished, and the premise is quite different, but I have to admit that it doesn’t grab me as much as I want it to.
The high episode count (48 eps), and the slightly meandering slice-of-life style doesn’t help. 20 episodes in, I feel like I’ve been watching this show forever, and I’m still not even at the halfway mark yet.
I have good intentions about going back to this one, but my good intentions might not be enough. So far, this one feels like a potential B.
Autumn in My Heart
I liked this one better on my second viewing than my first. If you keep a firmly retro Hallyu lens on, this one is quite enjoyable in all of its angsty, heartachey romantic glory.
Song Seung Hun is handsome, Won Bin is quite ethereal, and Song Hye Kyo is very fresh-faced and pretty. Atmospheric and old-school.
I do love Jang Hyuk, but this one promises to be a really heavy, difficult watch, so I’m not likely to check this out.
Also, my friend Darla made this amazing tribute video that makes me feel like I’ve watched the show – without having to put in the hours.
I’m generally not big on medical dramas nor crime dramas, and this one is a mix of both, which is why I haven’t been keen to check this one out, even though Jang Hyuk’s in it.
But, I’ve heard that this one is worth the watch, so I now have vague good intentions of checking it out.
However, it’s not very high on my priority list, and my list of dramas to check out is longgg.
Boys Over Flowers
I got caught up in the furore when this one aired, and I lapped it up like everyone else.
However, I can’t bring myself to rewatch this one now (I’ve tried). I can’t muster up enough affection for this drama to recommend it to others either.
I liked this one a lot when I watched it. This is quite possibly my favorite Lee Min Ho drama (if you didn’t know, I’m not a huge LMH fan).
I found this cracky in all its melodramatic, action-oriented glory, and I found LMH’s City Hunter nonchalantly cool and badass.
This one’s a pretty good time – as long as you don’t place a great deal of emphasis on the main loveline.
Dear My Friends
I honestly think this one is very, very good. Our veteran actors all shine in their own ways, and this is a rare story that allows older characters to take the spotlight instead of relegating them to the sidelines.
It’s just that with Show’s exploration of aging, the meaning of life, and the inevitability of death, I chickened out at the E5 mark, and haven’t managed to go back to it yet.
I have good intentions about going back to finish this one. So far, it feels like a solid A.
Discovery Of Love
I finished this one, but I didn’t truly love it. Eric is amazingly schmexy in this (check out that bedroomy gaze. Flail.), which is why I finished it, but I honestly didn’t love the “modern city love” treatment of the loveline.
It reminds me of 2011’s I Need Romance, which I also didn’t love.
On the upside, I liked this more than I Need Romance. If you liked I Need Romance, you’d probably like this one. I’d rate this one a B.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not generally drawn to medical dramas, and this one is firmly a medical drama.
I’ve heard so many good things about it over the years, though, that I have to admit I’m mildly intrigued. I might check this one out – someday.
Update: Open Threads are listed here.
I’ve had so many people ask me about this one. I’m sorry to say I haven’t seen this one, nor do I plan on watching it.
Mainly, the premise doesn’t interest me, and I’m also not a fan of Ha Ji Won.
I know, I know. So many of you have asked me how I could possibly not have a Goblin post on the blog, given my affection for Gong Yoo.
I tried to like this one, I truly did. I stuck with this for 10 episodes, before wandering off. This one just didn’t grab me.
I liked the sageuk flashback bits, but the present-day stuff felt rather try-hard to my eyes, in the sense that everything felt a little overly scripted. For this reason, the bromance between Goblin and Grim Reaper didn’t grab me either.
I’ve been told that this one can be a very enjoyable watch, given the right contemplative mood, so I have vague intentions of giving this another try sometime.
However, it is not high on my priority list.
Everyone raved about this one so much, that I decided to give it a try.
I got about 4 or 5 episodes in before I decided that it wasn’t for me. I’d been told that the bromantic connection is The Thing that makes this worth the watch, despite the production being very rough around the edges.
I failed to see the strong, cracky bromantic connection for the duration of my attempt to watch this show, and then the lack of sense-making eventually lost me.
I have fond cracky memories of this one.
The production values lean low, since this is very retro, having aired in 2001, but I remember being completely sucked into the story. I also remember being very charmed by Bae Yong Joon’s suave character.
As a bonus, A-list star Song Hye Kyo is a fresh-faced ingenue in this.
I realize that I haven’t truly enjoyed a Hong sisters drama in recent years. I dipped a toe into episode 1, but this one didn’t grab me, and I didn’t have the interest to continue.
I finished this one, but I didn’t love it as much as everyone else did.
I found the initial episodes messy, and the middle episodes repetitive and therefore frustrating. It didn’t help that I also found Jo Jung Suk’s Hwa Shin aggravating and stubborn.
The characters eventually grew on me, and I did find myself rather fond of them by the end, but I have to say that during the middle slumpy episodes, I found the secondary characters more interesting and engaging than our main trio.
I gave this one a B.
Kill Me, Heal Me
I finished this, and just never got around to writing it the review it deserves.
Ji Sung is FANTASTIC in this, managing to make his multiple personalities actually feel like easily distinct characters, sometimes just by changing his gaze. It’s quite remarkable.
Add on robust performances by the rest of the cast, and several thought-provoking themes around pain, healing and identity, and you’ve got yourself quite the gripping watch.
I gave this one an A-.
Edit: Open Threads are listed here.
I don’t do well with horror, and this is why I’m unlikely to watch Kingdom, even though everyone has only good things to say about it. Maybe one day, when I’m feeling particularly brave.
Le Coup de Foudre [China]
I’m currently stuck at episode 11 out of show’s 35. I generally like slice-of-life, but this one felt extra slow and meandering to me.
I feel like if I marathoned this, I’d like it better, so I might attempt that.
It’s also very possible that I’ll get sidetracked by newer, shinier shows. 😛
Legend Of The Blue Sea
I liked the Joseon storyline in this show more than the modern one. I also wasn’t feeling significant chemistry between our leads.
Essentially, after the initial mermaid-out-of-water hijinks, I started to lose interest.
I wandered off after Jo Jung Suk’s very memorable cameo, and never felt the urge to go back.
Legend Of Fuyao [China]
I’ve had this one recommended to me a number of times, and I’ve even watched the first episode and enjoyed it fairly well.
I just.. don’t yet have the fortitude to watch the whole thing, because, 1, it’s 66 episodes long, and 2, the various narrative pieces so far, especially the birth secret part, remind me quite a bit of other Chinese dramas I’ve watched, and therefore don’t feel very fresh, to my eyes.
I have vague good intentions of giving this one another try.
I’d heard so many good things about this one, that I gave it a try despite not generally having an affinity for police dramas. I liked the first 2 episodes, but got derailed by the very bloody case in episode 3 which involves someone having their tongue cut off. Eep. 😳
I tried to get through E3, twice, but chickened out both times. I’m told that it’s fine to just skip the bloody E3 to watch the rest of the show, but I haven’t felt the urge to do so.
Probably because I still hold it against Show, for scaring me. 😅
Medical Examiner Dr. Qin [China]
I’d heard lots of good things about this one, and so went into this with high hopes.
I liked the teamwork and camaraderie just like everyone said I would, and I got a kick out of seeing Li Xian with a goatee. But I found the cases rather perfunctorily and conveniently written, which dulled my interest.
I got 5 episodes in, before wandering off.
I was really into this one, and was mentally placing this show in A-territory, until I accidentally spoiled myself for the ending.
And, since that ending didn’t jive with what I’d seen of a key character in terms of the writing and delivery, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Big Twist at the end was likely shoehorned in for the shock value, rather than organically woven into the story from the start.
With this strong suspicion hanging over my head, I couldn’t muster the interest to continue.
For the record, I got 8 episodes into this one, before all this went down.
Here’s what I wrote about this show, in my 2018 year-in-review:
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.
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
I watched this when it first aired, and loved it. It’s really cute and funny, but also manages to be moving and heartfelt.
Lee Seung Gi is adorkably hapless, and Shin Min Ah is ethereal, beautiful and very winsome.
This one made me laugh out loud, and then cry big fat tears. I’d give this one an A.
Update: Open Threads are listed here.
My Name is Kim Sam Soon
This is one of those times when I just can’t seem to love a show that everyone else loves. I finished it early in my drama journey, but it somehow didn’t steal my heart.
I thought a rewatch might fix that, since I now have better drama-appreciating eyes (I like to think), but nope, as recently as last year, I still didn’t like it.
I found Hyun Bin’s character too arrogant and annoying, and Kim Sun Ah’s character, too brusque. I also found Jung Ryeo Won’s second lead character presumptuous and entitled. Sorry folks.
This one just wasn’t for me.
My Strange Hero
This one flew under the radar for me because the premise didn’t interest me. I’d dipped a toe into E1, but Show didn’t grab me.
Granted, I was admittedly struggling with a touch of drama fatigue at the time, so it might land differently for me, if I were to try again.
I don’t have active plans to watch this one, but I’m not writing it off either.
I actually loved this one, back in the day, and even watched it twice. Once on my own, and once with my sister, who also loved it.
The thing is, I can’t quite figure out why I loved it.
Lee Sun Gyun’s Chef is very shouty, controlling and domineering, and Gong Hyo Jin’s apprentice chef is blithely, unabashedly smitten with him – that is, once she stops hating him for firing her.
It sounds terrible, I know.
But there’s something about this small drama world, with its small story about an underdog apprentice trying to make good as a chef, that really worked for me.
I don’t know if I’d still love it if I were to watch it again now, but back when I first watched it, I would’ve given it an A-.
Here’s what I wrote about this show in my 2015 year-in-review:
So warm and cracky that I felt engaged right away.
The stand-outs in this drama are really the well-written and excellently delivered characters, and their relationships. Lee Jong Suk and Park Shin Hye are wonderful both individually and together, and their easy chemistry consistently put a satisfied grin on my face.
There are some logic fails to be sure, but those are heavily outweighed by Show’s positives.
I gave this one an A.
I don’t do well with horror, and I don’t do well with stories about cults.
From what I know about this show, it’s hits some pretty real nerves, and is just the kind of stuff that might give me nightmares.
I love my dramas, but not enough to risk nightmares, thank you very much. 😝😅
I loved this back when it first aired, and slurped it up like everyone else. More recently (maybe 3 years ago?), I attempted a rewatch for old times’ sake, and couldn’t get into it.
I found our male lead character too much of an unpleasant, entitled jerk, and all the so-called thrilling close encounters just didn’t land the same way for me like they once did.
The Hyun Bin Handsome used to be enough to blind me to everything else, but not anymore, I guess.
I much prefer Hyun Bin in Crash Landing on You. 😉
Shine Or Go Crazy
Here’s what I wrote about this one in my 2015 year-in-review post:
Show is quite delightful, light and cracky in its earlier stretch, with strong performances by its leads and excellent chemistry almost all the way round.
Unfortunately, Show takes a heavy, melodramatic turn in its latter episodes, and chooses a rather weak ending. Still worth the watch though, for the excellent performances by Jang Hyuk, Oh Yeon Seo and Lee Ha Nui.
I gave this one a B.
Save Your Last Dance For Me
I have very fond memories of this show, probably because this was only my second kdrama ever. I loved Ji Sung in this, and I lapped up all the melodramatic angst, mixed with romantic tension, that Show served up.
Pure love, against all the odds? Yes, please, and thank you.
Show gets draggy in its second half, but I didn’t care.
I got 3 episodes into this, before feeling the need for a break. From what I can see, Show is as good as everyone else says it is. It’s just not an easy watch at all, with all the serial killing going on.
I have good intentions of going back to this one, so that I can gush about it, along with everyone else.
Update: Open Threads are listed here.
Six Flying Dragons
I made the mistake of watching this at the same time as Chinese epic Nirvana in Fire. For the record, Nirvana in Fire is a masterpiece among masterpieces, and it ruined me for dramas for a good while, after I was done.
Also for the record, there are enough similarities between the two stories, to beg a comparison. I’m sorry to say that when placed side by side, I much preferred Nirvana in Fire, which felt much more intricately written, and much more polished than Six Flying Dragons.
I did try to like this one, though.
On my first try, I got up to episode 20, before taking a break.
I then came back to SFD, and pressed on until episode 30. At the episode 30 point, I realized that I didn’t actually care about our characters, and decided that I didn’t truly want to watch 20 more episodes of this.
I might go back to give this another try, if the mood strikes me, and perhaps third time will really be the charm.. but I wouldn’t hold my breath. 😅
Stairway to Heaven
A sobfest among sobfests, I think of Stairway to Heaven as being representative of Classic Hallyu, where melodramatic angst is the order of the day, and happy endings are for wusses.
I finished this back in the day, and hated the ending, but I have to admit that while I was watching it, I genuinely wanted to know what happened next.
Stranger / Secret Forest
Legal thrillers aren’t my usual cup of tea, but Show’s wide and gushy fanbase has me intrigued.
I need to check this one out, just to see for myself, how fantastic this one is.
And then hopefully I’ll like it enough to go on to Season 2, which I hear is just as good.
Update: Open Threads are listed here.
Strangers From Hell
I don’t do well with horror, and the synopsis doesn’t pique my interest enough for me to want to give this a try.
Sorry, folks. 😝
I was absolutely going to give this a miss as well, because like I keep saying, I don’t do well with horror.
But whaddya know, Lee Do Hyun is in this, and I recently loved him to bits in 18 Again (so good, y’all. 😍 Go watch it, if you haven’t!), and my friends have been telling me how good this is, so.. I might just talk myself into giving this at least a toe-dip – with the proviso that I get to run away without looking back, if I feel the need to. 😝😅
Update: Flash Review is here.
An early healing drama, Thank You is a warm melodrama that is very much worth the watch.
Jang Hyuk and Gong Hyo Jin both put in excellent performances, and Seo Shin Ae is precocious and wonderful as Gong Hyo Jin’s character’s daughter, who’s been diagnosed as HIV-positive.
Bonus points to Show for being set on a rural island instead of the busy streets of Seoul.
The Greatest Love
This is one of the earlier Hong sisters dramas where I started to realize that their shows weren’t working for me the same way they used to. I finished this one, but didn’t love it.
It’s been almost 10 years since this aired, so my memory is hazy in terms of why I didn’t take to this one. I think it’s one of those times when k-humor just didn’t jive with me.
I also didn’t (and probably still don’t) like the man-child type of male lead. 😝😅
The Pillow Book [China]
I loved Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, but didn’t much care for the loveline between Feng Jiu and Di Jun, and so have no plans to check this one out.
I’ve also heard that the production values are comparatively lacking, in this one.
The Untamed [China]
So many fans have urged me to check this one out; it is that much loved.
I am admittedly intimidated by the high episode count (50!), because when I did my episode 1 toe-dip, I didn’t get very far. 😝
Everything looked quite cheap and cheesy to me, but to be fair, I attempted E1 while in the midst of a bit of a drama slump.
I have good intentions of giving this another, fairer, chance.
Time Between Dog and Wolf
With its 2007 vintage, Show looks dated in comparison to its newer cousins, but this one was solidly engaging and heartfelt all the way through, whereas many newer shows in a similar genre lose the plot partway through.
In particular, this is an excellent showcase of Lee Jun Ki‘s acting range.
Tree With Deep Roots
Really solid, and highly educational too, Show paints a compelling picture of how King Sejong developed the Hangul writing system, fighting against opposition, and against all odds.
Han Suk Kyu, Jang Hyuk and Shin Se Kyung are all excellent in this. Highly recommend.
While You Were Sleeping
I’ve heard good things about this one, but when I tried out episode 1, it reminded me too much of I Hear Your Voice, which is by the same writer, and which also stars Lee Jong Suk.
I couldn’t shake the same-old, same-old feeling, and opted not to continue. I haven’t completely written off the possibility of giving this another try, but it’s not high on the priority list.
An iconic Hallyu classic, Winter Sonata is a show that’s managed to grab my heart, each time I’ve watched it.
I watched it twice early in my drama journey, and then rewatched it some years later.
Yes, it gets angsty and melodramatic in the second half, and yes, there are some terrible characters in this, but there’s something so ethereal about the OST, and something so pure and enduring about the idea of our OTP’s Fated Love, that I lap it up anyway.
This list isn’t comprehensive, of course. But I do hope that this helps to clear up most of the questions you guys might have, about what I think of various dramas.
Of course, things might change if / when I get around to checking out some of these shows. If that happens, and I write about them, I’ll come back to this post to update with links to reviews (or dropped posts, heh).
Do feel free to share your thoughts about these dramas in the comments. Who knows, you just might intrigue me enough to bump some of these shows up my list? 😉
I hope this list helps!
1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!
2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!
Of course, to clarify, the empathy was for the wife, the philandering/rapey golfer part was more like “does she understand that he was completely unworthy scum and jeopardizing her whole career -not to mention hurting someone that did not deserve it, the pregnant wife- over that whim was idiotic”.
Personally loved Mr. Sunshine, probably my favorite show (romanticism in the Hugo sense, some Kurosawa-like scenes, it was a bout values and not at all cynical).
I share the opinion on the Misty ending seemingly having been made for shock value (though I liked the FL’s character much better than, say, Kang Nara’s in Suspicious Partners, hated Ji-won though -character growth, but no reflections on her actions or shame/remorse/empathy for the pregnant wife of the philandering, violent, coercitive, three timing scum she had the lack of dignity and self respect to go after… was hoping at any time they would tell me she was seducing him to get news on evil corp, but no, she jeopardized her career and continued the affair after being discovered with someone she did not feel anything for (was completely unfazed by his death, which coupled with her lack of empathy for the pregnant wife during their confrontation made her seem sociopathic or “not all there”)-). She though studies didn’t matter and “an anchor was an anchor” (as opposed to what? A groupie for the rich and famous?), and was willing to hurt people that did nothing to her without remorse or hesitation, simply to satisfy a whim (FL by contrast did bad stuff, but always had a rational motive, she did not go around like a sociopath without empathy, hurting people for superficial whims… plus she had dignity and self respect, and respected her job and profession, *and* reflected on her actions, which Ji-won never did, despite her growing to respect her profession… no, I get that the show was trying to show character growth, but without addressing her actions or showing empathy for those she hurt -for all she knew she could have wrecked their family- I cannot get onboard, though given her respect for her profession it is safe to say that she evolved emotionally into something closer to the female lead).
I agree with you (RE: Mr Sunshine) — tortured samurai guy caught my eye in every scene. Scrumpdelicous.
I gave Kingdom a try and it’s good even if you are not into thriller/horror genre (I certainly am not). I’ve only seen season one but excited for the other seasons.
The relatively few episodes makes it easier to bear and the writing so far is really well thought out.
I know there are always way too many shows to watch, and that not every show will work for everyone, but if you do go back and tackle any of these, I’d highly recommend Stranger 1 & 2 and The Untamed.
What makes both seasons of Stranger so awesome (besides the amazing acting and character dynamics between Bae Doo Na and Jo Seung Woo) is how brilliantly the writer illuminates the systemic nature of corruption. So many shows focus on individual moral choices, but these shows are really about the bigger ways social networks influence all our choices, for good or ill, and the results are really powerful.
The Untamed does get off to a messy start, but it turned out to be one of my favorite shows I’ve seen in years (and the only Asian drama I’ve watched twice, as I immediately restarted it to make sure I’d actually seen what I thought I’d seen). For me, what made the show so special is the way that it casually dynamites centuries of tropes around patriarchal warrior culture and toxic masculinity. It’s so integrated into the storytelling that you might not notice if you aren’t paying attention, but it’s incredibly subversive, and one of the queerest shows, in all senses of the term, that I’ve ever seen (for perspective, I’ve never seen a mainstream fantasy epic from a major US or European studio doing something similar). I have no idea how it got past the Chinese censorship board but I’m incredibly grateful that it did.
I can ditto that Signal is very good. And it doesn’t lose its way like most time travel shows do.
Please go into Signal again. Not just because it’s my favorite show that I’d recommend it to everyone but it’s such an iconic crime drama and a good example of how story should be unfolded. KDramas nowadays are trying too hard on plot twists. Drama such as Mouse, Penhouse, Mine are just full of non-stop plot twists which tangle up the viewer’s perception and emotion. I think Signal should be an case to be studied and learnt about how to write an interesting, on-point and logical story without relying heavily on plot twists to maintain audiences interest.
I am so sad that you totally forgot about Dr. Stranger. I mean that’s gotta be an A, nothing less than A-.
I just watched Pinocchio because of this post, it is excellent! In fact while watching it I was reminded of Healer and its gutsy reporters revealing the truth behind a mysterious cover up. I confess not understanding the appeal of Lee Jong Suk before watching this but now I kinda get it. He spends most of this drama serious, but when he flashes his grin I’m like yeah ok I get the appeal now! Park Shon Hye was awesome and definitely an equal co lead, I loved how her character was so full of life and idealism to find out the truth. A lot of heart and bonding between family and friends, the romance was only one of the significant relationships. Lots of satisfying twists and turns in the plot too.
Yay, I’m glad this post helped point you towards Pinocchio, Elaine, and I’m so pleased that you enjoyed it!! I really enjoyed Lee Jong Suk in Romance is a Bonus Book as well – that was a very thoughtful, lovely show, I felt. I do recommend it! ❤️
Hi, I love your site, I have been following for a couple of years now! I do hope you will get a chance to watch the Untamed it really is a great show. I watched it back in June/July last year and still go back to rewatch my favourite episodes now and then (episode 46 is particularly poignant if you ever make it that far).
What stands out most to me about the drama is it goes beyond the love story about the two main characters. Some of the story lines I most enjoyed include:
The main hero choosing an unconventional path/ way of life in a very conventional, hierarchical society and all the consequences that comes from his actions.
Relationships of siblings (adopted and biological) in all the different families/ clans. The sisters in the drama are all angels.
A reflection of our society with regard to how gossip and rumours can ruin someone’s life.
Nature vs. Nurture. The main character and two villains are all orphans but end up with vastly different endings due to various life choices.
I do agree with a commenter above that you have to look beyond the very very bad CGI and low quality sets to enjoy the story. It has a lot of heart which makes up for those negative aspects.
Another thing I have to gust about if you ever do finish the drama is the music/OSTs in the show. It’s the most wonderful part of the drama. I love the main duet sung by the two leads (they are partners/soul mates in life and death). The song sung by the second lead (guy in white) is also wonderful (basically about yearning for his love for 16 years). Lastly, the main hero’s older sister’s song (heartbreaking every time you hear it after the show).
Again, if you do manage to finish the drama the first two episodes will make a lot more sense in retrospect. Keep an eye out for these gems:
Episode 1. The guy behind the curtain listening to the storyteller at the tea house.
Episode 2. The song the hero plays on his flute.
Sorry about my essay comment lol but you should really give it a chance.
There are so many on this list I have seen and with some of them I can certainly relate to your comments. If somehow, you do find the time, do watch Stranger 1 and 2. For my mind Stranger 2 is better than Stranger 1 and was my best k-drama for 2020 (Despite loving CLOY and Into The Ring so much). Dr Romantic is a very worthwhile watch, but I have never watched Dr Romantic 2 because I have this gut feeling it wouldn’t be the same. I think you need to be brave, yes very brave re Kingdom 1 and 2. Kingdom 2 is much better as well. As for Sweet Home – I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think it is very topical re its underlying themes. However, our youngest one said he was disappointed as it doesn’t follow the original story (and they studied it at school. I thought to myself, how lucky are you – some of the stuff we had to read in English Literature – apart from what I liked re the classics, was torture).
I liked both Doctor Romantics. Han Seok Kyu is as dynamic in the second season as he is in the first, and the ensemble is great again with the special addition of Yoon Ah Reum. Lee Sung Kyung as the female lead is not as interesting a character or actor in the second as Seo Hyun Jin was in the first series. However, I found Ahn Hyo Seop far more compelling in the second than Yoo Yeon Seok was in the first series. The second series had the same flaws, but was also as addictive as the first one.
Thanks for the feedback, BE. I will add it to my list 😊
I love Seo Hyun Jin, I met her first in Let’s Eat 2, it’s a light story but special to me. I liked it more than Let’s Eat 1.
Wow. Thank you so much for replying. The reply itself was everything I could ever hope for. Thanks a lot
^ 🙌 2 hands up in agreement here! For The Untamed it took until ep 13 for the chemistry to suddenly flip a switch and go from “meh” to mind-blowingly amazing for me, but I was forewarned of this courtesy of AvenueX’s review so I started watching with the goal of just sticking it out until there … So I would say if you make it to ep 13 (cave scene) and the chemistry still doesn’t work for you, then you should drop it.
I also wanted to add The Bad Kids to the list for 2020 top c-dramas. It’s often talked about together with The Long Night as they are both part of iQiyi’s crime drama series, and pretty much on par imo with TLN in terms of script/production/execution. Definitely a masterpiece year for mystery/crime c-dramas!
What about Chief of Staff?
You had it on your ‘Watching’ list, but it seemed to have dropped off your list of show.
I have been quite eager to get your take on that show…
oh my god I ADORED Time Between Dog and Wolf. I watched it way back when I was deep in my throes of Lee JunKi awesomeness (I will always love him; I merely drifted away from kdramas … and apparently just drama in general these days). I was inspired enough to try writing a novel along a similar vein in middle school (It never made it past the prologue lmao).
Eh… honestly other than The Untamed, I’d drop all the chinese dramas on your list too. I mostly at least attempted a good number/most of the chinese ones on your list and mostly disliked/was disinterested by most (I did like Medical Examiner Qin). The Untamed, I’d say don’t expect anything great until ep 10-12 ish. For ppl who don’t know the source novel, the plot is quiet confusing and not very well executed in delivery (as in, a lot of ppl didn’t know what was going on) in the first 10 eps, and for ppl who knew what was going on, the first 10 eps had bland chemistry. Once past that first hump, I personally really loved it and found similar sentiments among ppl who didn’t like it at first. I will say, this is probably my favorite adaptation, because quite frankly the characters are much more human and brought-to-life in the drama compared to the novel (I didn’t quite like the novel too much). It smoothed out all the kinks and issues I found with the novel, personally speaking.
I’d 100% recommend CrossFire and The Long Night from this year. CrossFire I’m sure you’ve heard from others already, but it’s really good. The genre and gaming/sports underdog vibe is right up my alley. But even without personal bias, the plot is really tight and well done (perhaps not AS well as Someday or One Day bc it is longer and etc, but I’ve heard others say it’s to some extent, comparable). The relationships are a highlight, and it’s very witty and funny/caricature at times, almost satirically so in some places. The in-game production is also really strong. The acting delivery were also very serviceable and more than adequate (sometimes really good) from most of the cast, esp the leads.
The Long Night is just incredibly masterful. It’s the perfect cross between masterful production/script/ACTING and very well executed and blunt social commentary. It’s very emotionally heavy and heartbreaking, but the acting is SO GOOD. It ends bitter but also, I’m glad this man, this character, existed and lived. What a beautiful soul.
I dropped Legend of Blue Sea at the exact same part, there was just no chemistry between the leads, especially after seeing Jo Jung Suk’s great chemistry with Jun Ji Hyun.
Thanks, Kfangurl. Im pretty new to Kdrmaland and haven’t watched many of the dramas on your list here. I must admit medical dramas don’t appeal to me all that much, maybe because I dread the thought of getting sucked into a Grey’s Anatomy kind of thing (I couldn’t handle a show like that anymore…) I’d probably give Romantic Dr Kim, which Ally recommended, a go though. When someone defends something so passionately, I cannot help being intrigued! I’m ok with thrillers, not very sure if I would enjoy a horror kdrama though…
As for Secret Garden, I just loved that drama… I watched it right after Crash Landing on you and My name is Kim Sam Soon, right in the middle of my Hyun Bin phase, and it was for me the most compelling show of all three. It is not without flaws, but I felt the characters just jumped right out of the screen/page. With all its quirks and fantasy, the conflicts of class and money felt powerful and real. The main male character , Kim Joo won, was particularly good. Of the dramas I have seen only Ji Chang Wook’s character in Healer and the main female character in It’s Ok to Not Be Ok can compare.
As for “Boys Over Flowers”, lol, one just cannot help loving that hot mess of a drama with all its imperfections… It’s poorly directed, some scenes are weirdly executed, and some of the acting is really dodge, but IDK… it’s strangely addictive. I confess I dropped it in episode 13, completely exhausted with the ridiculous plot contrivances, but returned to it months later with new energy and perhaps more appreciate eyes for LMH… I must say that he simply carried that show just doing his LMH thing. The guy certainly has a talent for that kind of role!
Legends of the Blue Sea is a bit boring, particularly around the middle, although it has beautiful parts and the main actress is very talented. I actually couldn’t finish You from Another Star, which I believe was written by the same author, had a similar story and the same actress… I just got super-bored with the male lead and his ET character.
Empress Ki was far too long. Ha Ji Won was not great, she had none of the charm she had in Secret Garden. The best part of that show was Ji Chang Wook. His theatrical kind of acting made his performance here more memorable that his performance in Healer. Controversial opinion, but there you have it. He’s becoming more minimalist though in his acting. In Lovestruck in the City he’s doing a great job. I’m really liking him there.
And I just love Goblin. It’s the atmosphere, the music and mood of the show what made it special for me. It’s also Gong Yoo’s voice and amazing acting.
Thank you for talking about Secret Garden and My lovely Sam Soon…I also saw them during the Hyun Bin marathon (actually I watch shows by actors…..so this year it will be Lee Jung Suk and Ha ji won dramas)
For any one who haven’t watched them – Watch these two dramas only if you are a hardcore Hyun Bin fan…otherwise you may not like it as Kfangirl rightly mentioned;
My comments – I agree with the comments mentioned by Gloglo on Secret Garden; I personally preferred HB in this drama and Alhambra as both had him playing character with shades of grey and even black – instead of a honest one note character as in CLOY….And strangely I also keep comparing Kim Joo Won and Healer…in the sense that these two are some of my fave characters in Kdramaland …And the only other person apart from HB who could have played Kim Joo this beautifully in spite of the flaws would have to be JCW;
Kfangurl – Any particular reason why you don’t like Ha Ji-won; Just being curious…thats all…
Also can anyone comment on why no one wants to watch Snow Queen (drama starring Hyun Bin); I absolutely loved that drama as that dealt with both mathematics and dealing with loss of loved ones/friends in an almost therapeutic way…..maybe I am an odd one out on this;
Gloglo – I haven’t watched Empress Ki……but have read the reviews and comments on net bit extensively…. (I will watch this year for sure after I am done with Chuno and once I am bit less emotional on covid as I know for sure that I will get very emotional on this drama) ….but just to let you know that many comments on the net agree with your view that JCW was the best about this drama or equally as good as Ha Ji as the Empress..
Thanks everyone for all your comments….I am enjoying reading through them…
Hi Princess Jasmine. Glad to meet another person who appreciates the character Kim Joo won. He is one of the most quotable and charming characters in kdramaland with all his verbal ticks: “Is this your best? Are you sure?” or “I don’t usually ask this sort of question, but…” or “I’m doing this just as the moral responsibility of a member of the upper classes” or “this was sewn stitch by stitch by Italian artisans”… It’s Kim Joo won’s delusions of grandeur what amuses me the most about him.
I fast forwarded a lot of Empress K and concentrated on JCW’s acting. The character he played was so complex and charming… He really won me over. I’m really enjoying his performance in Lovestruck in the City. I really recommend it. Some people are having problems with the female main character, but I’m finding the whole thing pretty interesting so far.
I must check Snow Queen. I never even heard about this drama, which is shocking as I LOVE Hyun Bin. he’s one of the great K-actors for me, at the same level of Gong Yoo with Park Seo Jung…. JCW is not at that level yet, I think, but getting pretty close methinks 😉
Great to meet you as well; I agree with you on Kim Joo Won – He is not a great or perfect character but there was something really charming and amusing about him; Also I liked his interactions with his cousin (Oska) and with Lee Jung Suk (who comes in as the young composer having a crush on Oska); And I really liked the twist they gave to the Little Mermaid story – it was nice to see that from a woman’s perspective….
Snow Queen – If you love HB then watch it; It is a very emotional and sensitive story but I liked it a lot as I love mathematics/numbers and have some experience dealing with loss of loved ones/cancer etc….so for me it was a poignant personal story as well; And Tae-Woong is a very special character for me and HB played it amazingly well; There is also another drama called Friends, our legend which has HB in it and has some great reviews on HB’s acting; I am yet to check that out as it’s a bit on the rough edge and maybe I will watch it after Covid;
I am enjoying Lovestuck and I like all the characters in it (special love for Kyung-soo) and I don’t have any problems with Kim Ji-won; Yes she is not perfect but that’s precisely the reason why I watch K-drama; I have a good tolerance for varied characters with shades of grey/black and as long as the director/writer/actor does a good job I have no complaints;
And yes HB is a great thinking actor – brilliant work profile; But for me JCW acts from the heart so I can’t really compare him with anyone as his personal story is very similar to mine and hence I feel very protective towards him and he has all my love as a true blue fan sister.
I like Gong Yoo and Park Seo but haven’t explored their work fully well to say anything;
Enjoy the week and have loads of tissue for Snow Queen if at all you watch it;
I just want to mention two shows that may not be your cup of tea (nothing wrong with that!), but maybe some of the readers of your blog might want to check out:
Duel – an intense thriller with some bioethical overtones and a tour de force performance by Yang Se Jong (playing 3 characters!)
Circle – a sci-fi/dystopian double narrative (a rarity in the kdrama universe), headlined by the always excellent Yeo Jin Goo.
Firstly, kfangurl, I am spending way too many hours here 😊 I just love hanging out with you and fellow kdrama fans – and, frankly, “real life” is proving to be SO exhausting. Home-schooling in lockdown? I need some (lots) of escapism!
Anyway, I loved this post as I feel like we do indeed share similar opinions. But, kfangurl, how can you not have seen Bad Papa or Beautiful Mind?! Jang Hyuk is excellent in both. I actually didn’t find Bad Papa that depressing and I hate boxing but somehow the characters got under my skin and I mostly loved it. Beautiful Mind too has some flaws but really lots to love. Even Jang Hyuk’s less than ideal hairstyle doesn’t diminish his panther prowess in the boxing ring or hospital setting. 😍
And I stuck with Mr Sunshine because of how totally gorgeous it looks and most especially because of Yoo Yeon-seok. He is brilliant in this – and, typical me – I only just realised he’s the same actor in Hospital Playlist!
Totally tried (still trying) with Six Flying Dragons. There’s something a bit, eek, boring about it, despite the great acting and Bang Won being fascinating.
I really wobbled my way through Signal – I was freaked out often. But the characters are amazing and it’s the first show my son and I have both watched (he’s 17 and loves grim dramas!!) I felt an achievement to have got through it and have come out the other side a fan of all three main actors.
Anyway, I ought to help with a Science lesson… Thanks again for all the happy distraction!! Xx
Because of your quick snap, I just started watching Dear My Friends. I like all these older women–smile emoji. What a cast of leads! And then looking at this seeing the be set upon daughter, Park Wan, asking myself, can it really be? Is that? And yes indeed, she is played by Go Hyun Jung. Seeing her just after I binged Queen Seon Deok in which she was Mishil, the most devastatingly charismatic villain I have seen in any K Drama playing in this quite unglamorous role. Wow! I am hooked episode one and a half.
Dear My Friends is another masterclass in acting.
Well, I have now finished three eps, and I have to say, I am going to check out other things Go Hyun Jung has been in. She simply wrecked me in QSD. And she is in such a different character entirely in this. I have not seen her in much, but in appearance alone, she reminds me a bit of Son Ye Jin, but to me as a screen presence she has heft and charisma far beyond anything I have seen Son Ye Jin in .
And the old and older women! Gosh they are sooooooo good. What professionals! I have seen almost all of them in different roles, and I am taken aback by how quickly they have disappeared into these roles.
If there ever were a drama, I would like to see a post mortem round table with the ensemble of actors and an interviewer who could ask good and penetrating questions of them, it would be Dear My Friends.
A bit ill the last two days, I blitzed through it. I would immediately rank Dear My Friends (a better title, if long, to me would be: My Mom, My Aunties, Their Men–My Dear Friends) as one of the three best contemporary K Dramas–Secret Love Affair and My Mister, the other two–I have to date seen. I loved all the characters, and given their ages ranging from mid sixties to eighty or so (Shin Goo) and the issues of being elderly raised in the story, the emotional load they were carrying for elderly people’s worst anxieties, especially that of those of my generation in South Korea (we have a considerably different cultural milieu in which we came of age here in the US), one can only say that the performances beyond being accomplished and generous were quite courageous. This is stuff that is hard for folks to think too much about as a rule. And…I would date Yoon Yeo Jung (Choong Nam) in a heartbeat, but I know she’s miles out of my class. Yuk.
And just one comment on a comedic motif–Nan-Hui’s hats…
“Nan-Hui’s hats”…that sounds like the first line of a poem.
Wow, you finished it really fast, BE!! 😱 That’s amazing, that you consider it as one of your top 3 best kdramas to date! I really do need to take another look at it, like you suggested in your email. Thanks for rekindling my interest in this show, BE.. I do hesitate because of the delicate subject matter, but your high praise does give me pause. 😉
2 things: There is a minor scene in one episode featuring the youngest of the elder actors, Park Won Sook, portraying in her role that of a famous, but now elder actor, Lee Yeong Won. It takes place after a day of her being on a set in which a younger, quite attractive actor, comes up to Yeong Won to compliment her on her acting that day. Yeong Won responds with compliments in kind. Her chauffeur and personal assistant chuffs at that. To which Yeong Won asks him if he did not agree. He tells her that the other actor was not very good at all, to which Yeong Won responds something to the effect of, “She’s young and very pretty and good enough, and that is really all that matters, but with older, and no longer such attractive, actors, well…she and them better well know how to act.” Then she asks the fellow if she did well that day. He tells her she was terrific.
The younger actors in Dear My Friends do well, especially Go Hyun Jong, who was in fact a forty-five year old at the time, but also Lee Hwang Soo, who played one of the auntie’s sons, but was in fact 31 when the series aired. Jo In Sung, who played Wan’s (Go Hyun Jong) love interest, albeit 35 and ten years younger than Go Hyun Jong, was the closest to being a pretty face in the drama. Nonetheless how just this small throwaway line really hits home while watching. The elder actors in this are so out of this world great–and it is on account of their performances that I rate this series so highly.
The second thing is something I also brought up in an email earlier with you. The show’s writer Noh Hee Kyung is one of a plethora of women writers in the Kdrama industry. Her unstinting willingness to depict characters all warts visible is for me the very best and most interesting element of K drama in general: the willingness to present even the characters we root most for as total human beings capable of doing horrible things, or making horrible mistakes in life, and often those characters we root the least for also as complex bundles of human behavior with some virtues. The dominant presence of women screen writers in K drama has what seems to me an overall salutary effect on the shows in general.
This post answers many questions for me. Thanks so much! It allowed me to mentally place many shows you have mentioned in passing but didn’t write a review of. I’ll check out the recommended shows for sure.
Fiery Priest is a show my household liked a lot, but then we also watched Live Up to Your Name with pleasure. Kim Nam Gil just throws himself into everything he does and it’s our kind of crazy.
Watching Zombie Detective now and the hectic, over the top female lead almost made me drop the show.
dear kfangurl – as always liked this post…
I have had Nirvana on my list forever and patiently waiting for Netflix to oblige and add it….(only because i saw your HIGH recco couple of years back)
As for the Untamed (I must confess I was never a fan of CDramas – until I saw Find Yourself – as a result – googled Song Weilong and watched – Go Ahead – as a result watched reviews – and found The Untamed recommended – which thankfully was on Netflix – and MAN – I can’t tell you – I am still not able to get over how well the two leads have acted – the subtle moments – outstanding – you have to forgive the poor production quality – cheap sets and pathetic CGI. And Editing – pits – the way they have ordered the episodes – shoddy….HOWEVER – since you are an avid blogger of shows – this is one you have to grit your teeth and bear with for about 12 episodes – before the production team starts doing their job better….
So I very humbly request – Oh writer of amazing reviews – please please – persevere and watch The untamed again…
Did I say please?
A fan of Mr. Sunshine, the actors, the plotting, the poetry, the cinematography, the supporting cast, the whole nine yards. I would add, that while it might be slow, and probably could have been better presented in three seasons than one long haul, I do think anyone who makes it to Episode 19 will be blown away and it just runs downhill like an unstoppable train from there with big payoffs from all the characters large and small. I think a much more underrated Nokdu Flower which hits upon the time period immediately preceding Mr. Sunshine is also quite good. I would have liked Chicago Typewriter if it had only dealt with the time period following Mr. Sunshine as well. Up to this point, it strikes me that the period of the Japanese colonialization and the post Korean War period have been dealt with better in movies than tv dramas. From what I have read, Sandglass, a series from the 90s about the rough patch for Korean democracy in the late 70s, early 80s was quite good, but it is impossible to find, despite having a kind of classic status.
Dr. Romantic is good, but Han Seok Kyu is mind blowing. Likewise, but not to the same extent, Stranger is good, but Bae Doo Na is excellent. Both for me have problems, Dr. Romantic a bit over the top insofar as the melodrama is spread like peanut butter and jelly on the bread, and Stranger suffers from being a bit too convoluted for my tastes. But their lead actors are among the very best working actors in South Korea, and they both deliver in each of these dramas’ two seasons.
Jang Hyuk was more interesting to me in Bad Papa than he was in Beautiful Mind, even if the latter was less flawed and also featured the very spunky Park So Dam.
Tree With Deep Roots is phenomenal. Six Flying Dragons is very good, but so dense and long, I have found myself taking breaks from it and perhaps I might finish it sometime.
i am with you K on Goblin. Did not get it at all.
I mentioned before that Mr. Sunshine is like a sprawling 19th century novel. When you are in high school, reading a novel like that feels like a chore. But reading it years later one can’t help but admire how good it actually is. I do agree that the build up was slow, but the payoff was totally worth it. Nokdu Flower has a similar vibe.
I enjoyed this post so much! Because we usually talk about currently airing dramas, it’s really hard to know the older shows that anyone watched or how they thought about them!
100 Days My Prince, Beautiful Mind, Dear My Friends, Save Me, While you were sleeping, Strangers From Hell are on my watchlist (though I don’t know when I will be able to watch them) 😉
I don’t have problem with retro shows but Autumn in My Heart, Stairway to Heaven, Winter Sonata seem like tearjerkers to the nth degree. So they are not on my plan to watch list.
Boys Over Flowers, City Hunter, My Name is Kim Sam Soon, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, Secret Garden…I liked them a lot. I have actually rewatched BOF, Sam Soon, My GF…and enjoyed some more than my first time…but this was all in 2012-2013…so I’m not sure how I’ll feel about them now. Chances are I will like them…hehe
Do watch Signal and Stranger. AWESOME shows.
Stranger is not exactly a legal thriller, more like an investigation mystery, but more character driven than thrills.
I enjoyed the humour and bromance in Goblin. But didn’t like the romance. Also, the eps are so long that I’m not sure if I will watch it again. Maybe I will just rewatch the comedy scenes.
I have a suggestion for shows you watched but didn’t write about them on the blog…make a ratings list 😀 Readers can get some bit of idea about how you liked a particular drama.
Thanks for this post. The very first time after I got to know your blog (post CLOY-review), and searched for a few ‘popular’ ones on your complete list of shows, I thought my ctrl+F broke because there was NO way you hadn’t reviewed those shows, much less, not watched them 😱
Very recently, your year-end post revealed to me, that you indeed watch far greater number of shows, and don’t always find the need or time to review every single one of them. I breathed a sigh of relief! There was no way you hadn’t watched X, Y, or Z. (not going into details, lol!)🤣
NIF vs SFD dilemma is the SAME I faced while simultaneously watching Empress Ki & Empress of China (the one with Fan BingBing and a crappier plot). I discovered that the production values of costume c-drama historicals is SO much higher than Saeguks, that I permanently swore off this category, unless it was a fusion saeguk! Court-politics & harem-scheming is already so dry, might as well watch something that looks expensive, pretty and has greater variety in terms of styling (due to multiple dynasties)! 😍
If you ever had time and the patient to stick around for 60+ episodes, would def recommend Yanxi Palace (the first season, they graded the colours to fit a Morandi-colour scheme, and have beautiful cinematography), or maybe even Empresses in the Palace (the politics is SO good, despite an older production value). I am forever on the lookout for an under 30-ep watch, but that’s super rare! 😭
Out of this very exhaustive list, I have watched Goblin (did not get the hype, I didnt feel for the characters enough), BOF (made me quit dramaland for a decade), LOTBS (only first 2 eps, and that scarred me towards the lead actor), ELOD (I stuck through for Dilraba, and haven’t yet finished the last 6 eps…shhh!), Fuyao (picked right up after TMPOB and quit; wasn’t ready to see Yang Mi next to someone other than Mark Chao. The ep count now looks daunting); Empress Ki (finished on my third try despite- because of- Jcw’s pretty face. The inaccuracy of everything, and a less-than likeable ML, made it a task to finish this one) and the Guardian (again, they changed everything, GAH!)😒🙄
The only one I am looking forward to, is sweet home, because just like you, I don’t do well with horror but have grown a severe case of heart-eyes for Lee Dohyun, which just won’t quit.😍 Doesn’t help, he’s a corgi-dad IRL!!🐶🐾❤
Hi CarpControl!! 😃 So glad you liked this post!
You’re not alone, I think there are a lot of readers who look for reviews for shows like Goblin, Mr. Sunshine and Six Flying Dragons, among others, and come up empty. At the time that I’d attempted those shows, I wasn’t quite prepared to pronounce a hard drop of them, but at the same time, I wasn’t really motivated to keep watching. Putting them on pause and writing a blurb for each of them in the year-in-review seemed like a good idea at the time, but since then, so many people have asked why I haven’t written about them, has proven that it wasn’t such a great idea after all. I should’ve just written Dropped posts for them all, to at least let people know that I hadn’t missed watching them completely! 😅
You made more headway than I did, of the shows we have in common on this list – but it sounds like it was not an easy journey! 😅 My mum watched Empress Ki up the mid-way point, and when the story seemed to start a brand new chapter, she quit. 😆 I guess I should be thankful for my Ha Ji Won aversion, or I might’ve been in a greater dilemma about watching Empress Ki! 😆
OMIGOSH, Lee Do Hyun’s a corgi dad??? 😍😍😍 Well that just makes him ten times more appealing (which is quite a feat, as I currently find him PLENTY appealing ahem) ❤️❤️
I think your mum and I dropped Empress Ki at the same point (episode 39-40?). It is a fun show if one doesn’t pay attention to the plot inconsistencies and silly dialogue, but after 40 episodes I just had enough of the bad acting.
Yup, KFG.. this post comes as almost a…closure…for those of us who have tried to look up that oddly popular drama for your opinion on it! And that includes dramas like KMHM, which you loved, but didn’t get to writing a full-blown post…sometimes life does get in the way! 😛
Gosh, your Ha JiWon aversion seems as real as my aversion to LMH, to the point where I don’t reveal such a fact that easily, esp to fellow drama-fans who I know IRL 😀 😀 EK was a big time-investment and glad you spent watching some other drama instead! 🙂
I’m glad this list will come handy to all those newbies on your blog (like moi), hunting for ‘that drama review’. Even if they aren’t full-reviews, the blurbs are incredibly helpful! :3
And yes, aside from being great with kids and making us all go UwU
LDH is also a corgi-dad and has a few precious insta-posts with his fur-baby!🥰
Great idea for a post!
For horror lovers, you might want to check out The Guest. I though it was pretty well done.
Thanks for enjoying the post, Natalia! ❤️ As a non-horror lover, I will quietly put The Guest in a corner and slink away as unobtrusively as possible..! 😆
I am the only resident of the kdramaverse who has never seen Boys Over Flowers, My Name is Kim Sam Soon, Secret Garden, and Descendants of the Sun, and I am still not interested.
I also preferred the historical part of Goblin, but not the modern setting. I did finish it, but found it slow and boring, despite the gorgeous cinematography, atmospheric music, and great acting.
I saw City Hunter twice, and was less excited the second time around. Maybe I should rewatch Healer instead?
I did like Dear My Friends, Dr. Romantic, and My Girlfriend is a Gumiho.
Save Me, Kingdom, and Signal are very good, but may not be everyone’s cup of tea because of the dark tone. Another very dark but also very good drama is Red Moon Blue Sun (Children of Nobody).
Thank You is really good. Jang Hyuk has a special chemistry with children actors.
Time Between Dog and Wolf is a must for everyone who likes Lee Joon Ki and Jung Kyung Ho. They look like babies in the drama!
Tree with Deep Roots, Six Flying Dragons, and Mr. Sunshine are classic sageuks. I understand why some viewers may have reservations about 6FD and Mr. Sunshine. Historical details were totally unfamiliar to me, so I had to do some reading on my own to understand who was who and what was going on. I started watching 6FD for Yoo Ah In (who is great in it), but it was Byun Yo Han’s tragic swordsman that kept me invested in the drama. Byun Yo Han and Yoo Yeon Seok were the scene stealers in Mr. Sunshine.
I have never seen Pinocchio or Heal Me Kill Me, but your descriptions made me curious.
Hi Snow! Both KMHM and Pinocchio are among my favorite dramas too 🙂
Hi Snow Flower!! I saw BOF, Sam Soon, Secret Garden and DOTS, and I honestly don’t think you’re missing a great deal, to be honest! 😉
I’ve heard good things about Red Moon Blue Sun! I’ve also heard that it’s dark, which is why I haven’t yet tried it out. I generally don’t prefer dark. 😝😅 But I will keep this one in mind, since it’s supposed to be so good!
I really enjoyed Pinocchio and KMHM, so I hope you’ll like them too, if/when you check them out! 😃 Some suspension of disbelief is required for both, but they’re both worth it, in their own ways!
@ Snow Flower Vis a vis Mr. Sunshine. I think the leads have been quite underrated myself. Lee Byung Hun doing his best Gregory Peck (younger folks will have to google) tall drink of water and Kim Tae Ri’s steely eyed Ae Shin were perfect, imo, and there are several specific scenes I could refer to in which they were simply phenomenal. The scene at the bridge wherein she is being asked to assassinate him and the aftermath being one especially, and the scene on the train in the finale. They were the stars, and there was a reason. Insofar as scene stealing goes, hard to overlook Kim Min-Jung as Kudo Hina among the five leads. I do not know what the women here might think of her, but I doubt there was a male who liked the show that can forget her lips and eyes. Just saying. But the real scene stealers were among the supporting cast: Choi Moo Sung, Lee Jung Eun (I want to see her in anything, a marvelous character actor). and Kim Gap Soo especially, but also Kim Byung Chul and Jo Woo Jin. Indeed, the entire support ensemble are a large part of my Mr. Sunshine love.
Hey, I know who Gregory Peck is! 😃(Spellbound, mmmmm😊). I have a soft spot for Byun Yo Han and Kim Min Jung in Mr. Sunshine.
Forest of Secrets is very good, but I find it too cerebral at times. I liked the platonic dynamic between the two main characters.
I agree with you about Forest of Secrets/Stranger. It strikes me that they did not really know whether this was supposed to be a mystery crime drama or a drama about police/prosecutorial/cheobol corruption and so the mystery element was somewhat buried by the plodding indecision about which corruption they wanted to highlight. It might have been more accessible to a South Korean audience, but to me it seemed too artsy, and I had a hard time caring or being either scandalized or outraged about the corruption element. i believe there is a real drama to be had about all that, but Stranger just lacked the punch to drive it home and so it appeared more device to me than anything else.
I agree too that the platonic relationship between the leads was good, but mostly because of Bae Doo Na, as Jo Seung Woo as Hwang Shi Mok is given an (unnecessary in my opinion as he could have been the same exact character without the gimmick) a priori as an emotionally gelded individual. Bae Doo Na’s character has to grapple a bit with her attraction to Shi Mok as well as her motherly instincts to protect him. It is the acting throughout that made it such an interesting show for me.
Thanx for this post. I feel kind of the same about Jealousy Incarnate. While I did like the characters, I found the whole idea of them living in the same house kind of ridiculous. The love triangle got so draggy and exhausting. I finished it, but was kind of relieved when it was done.
I really liked 100 Days my Prince a lot. I think D.O. was amazing. Got a severe case of hearts in eyes for him by the end 😁
I watched Boys over Flowers twice. Actually fast forwarded through it the second time. I kept wondering why the female lead didn’t annoy me as much the first time I watched it. And the tropes and coincidences were just a bit overwhelming.
My name is Kim Sam Soon was also not a favourite of mine. It started better than it ended.
Liked Goblin. Not one of my favourites, but have warm feelings towards it.
I almost didn’t finish episode one of Kill me Heal me, because the English bits were very cringy. But got through it and really loved it.
I like Le Coup de Foudre a lot. The girls’ aegyoish kind of talking sometimes annoyed me a bit, but I loved the writing. Just left me with a warm heart.
I feel the same as you about horror, hospital- and police dramas. I did watch Dr Romantic 2 though and it was very good.
Watched first 5 episodes of Sweet Home. Also followed Lee Do Hyun there, but it’s just not my thing. I might finish it, but not now. 😃 Also on hiatus with Signal. I loved it up to ep 8, but just needed a breather.
I agree that My Strange Hero had a weird first episode. It took me a while to finish it, but I really got into it after that and enjoyed it fairly well. Also, I think you will really like While you were sleeping if you give it a go.
The Greatest Love is one of my all time favourites. I thought the writing was clever and funny and I luuurved Dok Ko Jin. Don’t ask me why, I just did 😆
Not a very in depth analysis, but I think you get the idea 😁
Hi carulhein! Thanks for enjoying this post! ❤️ And thanks for weighing in on the various shows! I’m very glad you managed to get though E1 of KMHM, and ended up loving it! Ji Sung is SO GOOD in that! 🤩🤩
Sounds like I need to bump Dr. Romantic up my list, if you don’t love medical shows, and yet managed to like it a lot! I should probably also take another look at While You Were Sleeping. 😅
I will never forgive you for Six Flying Dragons. I mean that’s Yoo Ah In in 50 episodes. Kidding. 🙂 You did see at most 30 episodes. And that’s to be praised. Thank you for watching it.
I remember your blog about Nirvana in Fire. I knew that was the reason when I saw SFD in the IG thumbnail. I commented on it, as I had a hard time with that drama. I kept wondering why I couldn’t love it, when I was going gaga over SFD. I think I was looking for action packed scenes, and I thought SFD had that, even their political machinations are more pronounced. I was rooting for the characters’ ideology and accomplishments. NiF is definitely more nuanced and quiet, and that’s probably why I couldn’t adore it as much.
Quality wise though, yes Nirvana in Fire is up there. Production values, from locales, costumes to cinematography and acting, they are all top quality. It was a remarkable departure to many Chinese dramas that came before it.
This was a great blog today. Thank you.
Hi drawde!! 😃 Ahaha you had me going for a while there, never forgiving me for SFD and all! 😆 That’s so interesting that you mention you were looking for action-packed scenes.. I thought the action scenes in NIF were excellent. But perhaps they occurred too late in the story for your taste? That’s a good point, about SFD being about the characters’ ideologies. That wasn’t the case in NIF, which was focused on the pursuit of justice. There was no fundamental change in ideology, if memory serves.
Thanks for enjoying this post! ❤️
I don’t get the fascination with sweet home. It is predictable just like every other horror show and frankly quite boring. You have to switch your brain completely off to enjoy this a bit or be stupid that works too.
It is also not very gross compared to old horror movies. The only thing that was gross to me was Lee Si Young….
Hi Reaper!! Sounds like you’ve seen quite a few horror shows? I haven’t seen many at all, so I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to recognize most horror tropes (I imagine there’s such a thing), and therefore I am a lot less likely to be bored than you, I think!
Why did you find Lee Si Young gross?
You don’t need to watch a lot of horror movies to figure them out… just a working brain 😂 than everything is predictable
Did you look at her? So disgusting (couldn’t find a better word) it gave me chills
I haven’t seen the show.. I’m still working up to it, because I’ve heard it’s very gruesome. 😝 So no, I haven’t seen Lee Si Young in it. 😅
Na you will be fine its childs play
I think she is in the trailers lile that but not sure but you‘ll see
Ok, I guess I’ll see for myself, when (if?) I manage to convince myself to start watching it! 😅
Don’t worry it is not scary bc cg is only average and if you play games you have already seen all the monsters
I think you will see what I meant about LSY in ep 4
Ahaha, see, I don’t play games either, Reaper.. I guess I’m primed to be as impressed as possible, with Sweet Home? 🤣🤣 Thanks for the heads-up, let’s see if I even get to E4. I’m such a horror wuss that I wouldn’t be surprised if I chicken out as early as E1. 😝😅
I think to chicken out in ep 1 would be a record 😂
If you are such a wuss you might actually be scared 🤣
My point exactly, Reaper.. my point exactly! 😆😅😝
Just remember: it is fake, you are not even there, they can’t do anything to you, relax, think logical 😂 ah and don’t die
I don’t understand what you found gross about Lee Si-young? I thought her character was pretty cool, and she was definitely using that “former amateur boxer” physique to good effect…
I pretty much accept and tolerate everything but what I like and support is still up to me. Just because you like the character and the way she looks, doesn’t mean I have to and I certainly don’t like it. It is as simple as that.
Completely agree on Goblin and Legends of the blue sea. It’s both so overrated. Please give while you were sleeping another try. It’s so much better than I hear your voice! And also Jung Hae in was so adorable as a policeman haha
Ooh. Jung Hae In as an adorable policeman? 🤩 You sure know how to get my attention, Jam! 😆 I will bump it up the list, thank you! ❤️
I think the issue with Goblin is that it requires a “slice of life” lens rather than expecting something more plot heavy (this is what I’ve learned in my recent rewatch) I also agree with you and kfangurl that Legend of the Blue Sea is… overrated.
NiF ruined sageuk for me too lol. I did manage to finish SFD because the story is still interesting enough for me, though I can’t help but noticing how… less polished it was compared to NiF, dialogue-wise, plotting-wise. But then again even TWDR has tighter writing than SFD, imo.
Hi5, Vee!! NIF really is in a league of its own, with how complex and detailed the writing is. I couldn’t detect any dropped threads, and everything has its own significance. And it’s all produced with such fine precision and polish, too. 🤩 I would’ve found any other show lacking next to it, too, not just SFD. SFD just had the misfortune of being neighbors with NIF on my drama plate..! 😝😆
Skip Legend of Fuyao and The Pillow Book, both not worth the time imo. Definitely watch The Untamed, but keep in mind the right lens. It’s a relatively low budget drama starring (then) unknown leads, and production values are adequate but not stellar, CGI terrible. But it has heart and plot and OTP crack that makes it so worth the initial 10+ episode investment to truly get into the story. Legend of Fuyao probably has the best production values of the 3 shows, but I found it just perfunctory and lacking soul. I would honestly pass on all the other Cdramas you mentioned. Le Coup de Foudre has a cute OTP but if you’re still not into them at ep 11 then you’ll not like the rest of the show either.
Thanks for weighing in on the C-dramas, Anon, much appreciated! 😃 It definitely helps me prioritize the dramas with more clarity! ❤️
Save Me was both brilliant and the hardest show I have ever watched. Just describing it to my mum had me tearing up. I struggle to recommend it because of how hard it is to watch. But if you can, it is well worth it and very rewarding. But definitely not for everyone and I would never “force” someone to watch it.
Kudos to you for finishing a show that you found so hard to watch, momaw! You have a great deal of fortitude! 😃 Thanks for endorsing Save Me.. I am unlikely to check it out myself, but I’m sure your recommendation will help other readers! ❤️
I literally was thinking this exact question while reading your review for “18 Again” and when I went to your home page, there it was! Woah, universe. Anyways, I just wanted to you know that I love your blog, and Happy 8th Anniversary!
On a different note, I’m so glad that you included Goblin on the list, because I’m sure it’s probably one of your most searched reviews, even though it doesn’t exist. When I first watched it four years ago, I loved it so much, and it was so mindboggling to me at the time.
The reason I bring this up: I’m actually rewatching Goblin right now (first time since it came out), and I get what you mean. I still enjoy it, it’s still one of my favorite dramas of all time, and the feels are still amazing (and the cinematography and aesthetic still stands out), but the second time felt slightly less spectacular than the first time I watched it. It’s odd because this is one of the only TV shows that I can tell you the plot of, explain the character arcs, defend any criticisms (like the age chasm; I can write about that below for the sake of putting it out there), etc. I remember it so well, and I remember it with such a specific lens, with such specific emotions and thoughts. It’s like a memory, a well-maintained one. As I’m rewatching it right now, there’s a slight foreign feel to the experience. I know many people who often work on fanfictions that face this dilemma, as their minds wander and deviate from the original plot, whether it’s with character changes or alternate endings, etc., and then when they come back to the show, they’re often shocked, or even averted from it. But the thing is, with Goblin, I never really explored further beyond the show, but I still feel this way.
In essence, I’m still enjoying the show after a long time, but it just isn’t the same, and many things could be to blame. I get that. I’m an adult now, I have more life experience, my worldview is different, my drama preferences have changed, etc.
But I would love to ask about your thoughts on this dilemma. Have you rewatched any dramas, either ones that you stopped early or finished completely; ones you love or ones you can tolerate, etc.? Do you have a specific guide to rewatching anything? Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever fallen out of love with a drama after rewatching it? Thoughts? (Sorry, that’s a lot of questions.)
Wow, what perfect timing for this post for you, Shriya! 😃 Thanks for your warm anniversary wishes, and for enjoying the blog! ❤️
Thanks too, for sharing your experience with rewatching Goblin, and for your question. Let me ponder over this for a future Dear kfangurl post! 😉😘
AHHHH OMG YOU REPLIED! 😄 I smiled so hard when I got the notification that you did. 😁
I actually forgot to add a sentence about a “slice of life” lens that I needed to adapt for my Goblin rewatch, shifting from a previous lens of expecting plot-heavy drama; point being, have you ever needed to change your viewing lens/perspective during a rewatch, either for the fun or it or because that’s required for an optimal rewatch?
Sorry for all the questions 😬🤓 I hope I’m not demanding or anything like that. I’m just genuinely curious and would love to hear your side on the whole psychological aspect of drama, which you have indirectly touched on in previous posts, and very much enjoyed. 😀 Since rewatches are kind of what I am seeing (from my POV) in the drama-fan-land-world (lol 😂 I need a better name to describe a general kdrama fanbase) right now, I thought that now would be a good opportunity sort of bring it up in the comments section.
Once again, thank you so much for all that you do for aforementioned drama-fan-land-world. It seems kind of cheesy and oddly trope-like to say this, but your reviews are one of the most high-quality based on what I’ve seen in terms of circulation, and although biased, I have never been disappointed, even if I have a different opinion. That’s such a rare thing now, to be able to present information in a way that is opinionated and can be respected (I’m also writing this in a “heat of the moment”; I’m from the U.S., where division ranks #1 right now 😞).
Sorry if that got too… heavy? TBH IDK if I could genre-fy my statements above. 🤷🏻♀️
Aw, thank you for being excited at my reply! You make me feel super special, thank you! 🥰 I find that it’s much harder to keep up with comments as the blog grows, so I might not be able to reply to all comments like I used to. I promise to do what I can, though! ❤️
Thanks for the added clarification; I will take it into account as I mull over your question for a future post! Also, thank you for enjoying and valuing the reviews as you do! 😘
What an awesome idea for a post! Thank you for setting out this list like this, there are definitely a few on there that I was curious not to have seen on the master review list (Goblin for one, for sure).
My comments on a few from your list:
100 Days My Prince: I started my Kdrama journey not being really big into sageuk, although I’m starting to warm up to them, but I admit I had higher expectations for this one. I ended up mildly enjoying it — I’d probably give a B on your scale — but I think it squandered a fair bit of its fish-out-of-water humor potential. Nam Ji-hyun does yeo(wo)man’s work as the female lead, but I found Doh Kyung-soo (D.O.) to be kind of a downer/charisma sink. Silver lining: this was my first encounter with Kim Seon-ho, currently shooting to stardom on the strength of his Start-up “good boy” turn (he plays an official and friend of the crown the prince here).
Boys Over Flowers: I know this is like super-iconic and is constantly getting referenced as a big deal in Kdrama history, but I just can’t muster the interest or desire to put this on my list, because everything I hear about the story makes me scream “run away!” (jerky rich high school dudes? NO THANK YOU). Plus, those hairstyles…aaaaahhggh!
City Hunter: I hadn’t really heard much about this one besides the name, but then I recently went and fell into Healer (thank you again to all the positive comments and recs here!), and immediately had to check Park Min-young’s filmography which led to this. I don’t super love Lee Min-ho, but I do have generally positive vibes since he was after all the ML in my very first Kdrama (TK:EM), so I’ve added this one to my list to check out at some point.
Dr Romantic: Like you, I’m not big into medical dramas, but then I saw Hospital Playlist and loved it a lot, plus this and its sequel apparently has gotten a lot of love in both audience numbers and awards, so I feel like I may need to check it out at some point…
Goblin: Ah. What to say about this one? My comment after finishing it was that it was “emotionally exhausting.” I also compared it to the latter half of the final book in the Lymond Chronicles because they were both “cosmically fated epic romances between world-weary older dudes and fresh, perky ingénues,” and “because of the same fraught, emotionally intense tonal register that they’re both wallowing in.” I think your notion of the lenses used to watch a show is useful here: if you’re able and willing to view this through the lens that everything in this narrative is governed by grand ties of fate and destiny, then it’s possible to slip into the current and get swept away. If not…then not so much.
Hwayugi: I’ve tentatively got this on my list, just because I’m dying to see a Korean treatment of Journey to the West. I still haven’t seen anything with Lee Seung-gi, and Lee Seung-gi as Sun Wukong? Yes, please?
Kingdom: I mean, I can’t fault you for not being into horror, because I definitely am not either. There was just something about a Joseon dynasty zombie apocalypse that worked for me, though. Really great production values; Bae Doona and Ju Ji-hoon bringing their A-level talent; the episodes are short by Kdrama standards, and only twelve episodes across the two seasons…Yes, it was bloody, but I have to say it was quality entertainment.
Mr Sunshine: I’m definitely right there with you in the minority on this one. I acknowledge that on some objective level it’s good, but it just didn’t grab me, and it was kind of a slog to finish it. Lee Byung-hun is a decorated, accomplished actor, but I just couldn’t get into his character, and the twenty year gap between him and Kim Tae-ri was kind of an obstacle to really falling into their romantic connection…which was super slow burn anyway. My favorite character by far was Kim Min-jung as the second lead femme fatale, swanning about in killer Victorian outfits and vamping right, left, and center.
Save Me: I also am not much into shows with cults, so my initial response was to pass this one by, but after IOTNBO, I am definitely up to reconsider anything that Seo Ye-ji is in, so I might have to consider this one at some point…
Stranger: Yeah, everyone keeps saying how good this and its sequel are, so probably have to get around to it at some point.
Sweet Home: I said my piece on this one. It’s going to a balance between whether the human interactions and character evolutions suck you in before the gross stuff drives you away. Keep us posted!
Tree With Deep Roots: This sounds like a really cool topic (creation of hangul is a legit epic subject), and I just need a few more quality “light” sageuk under my belt to get me all trained and ready for the hard stuff.
Winter Sonata: Whew. This is one of the foundational works that I kind of feel obligated to see. I think I’ve finally got the VPN issues ironed out so I can access it, now I just need to wait for the right time when I feel like the emotional reserves are all topped off and I’m ready for some emotionally devastating romantic tragedy..
I’m really pleased that you like this post, Trent! 😃 I probably should’ve done something like this earlier.. there have been SO many readers who’ve reached out to ask me why I haven’t reviewed Goblin! 😝😅
I sincerely think you can safely skip BOF and be better off for it.. it’s objectively terrible, and if the premise already puts you off, you’d be even more horrified if you were to actually watch it and see some of the very disturbing plot points. 😝
I liked City Hunter when it aired, but I much prefer Healer, so since you’ve already watched, Healer, I’d recommend you dial down your expectations a bit, when you get to City Hunter. That ought to help you enjoy it better!
Ahaha, seeing your take on Goblin does make me feel like I did the right thing, choosing not to finish it! 😅 I found that I could not get swept away by it, and that word “wallow” is PERFECT for describing Show’s indulgent approach to the whole Epic Fantasy Love thing. 😆 Similar thing with Mr. Sunshine – I found it a slog too, to get to E13, which is where I kind of gave up. 😝
Also, it looks like we can consider Winter Sonata & Dr. Romantic as potential group watch titles, going forward..? Something to think about! 😃
@kfangurl Ah, thanks for confirming my decision to forgo the “delights” of LMH and the boys in BOF is a true and righteous one! (I just realized Kim Bum is one of the gang in BOF, and I’m seeing him for the first time right now in Tale of the Nine-Tailed, and quite enjoying him, actually. I was already kind of looking forward to the new upcoming drama “Law School” just because it was going to be a come back of sorts for Ryu Hye-young, who I loved as Sung Bo-ra in Reply 1988, but seeing Kim Bum cast opposite her, I’ll definitely be watching for it now).
I will downgrade City Hunter a bit on the priority list, maybe, and when I feel in need of a Park MIn-young fix (as who doesn’t, once they’ve seen her?), perhaps I will check out Her Private Life instead.
I definitely think that Winter Sonata and/or Dr Romantic are definitely possibilities for a group watch, since I haven’t seen either and am interested in seeing both! Not sure about what anyone else would think, though…
I just started Tale of the Nine Tailed and it’s excellent! Also a great homage to Goblin I feel.
Ahh, I’m glad to hear you are enjoying it. I definitely ended the show feeling that Kim Beom’s character (Li Rang, the cocky younger brother of the ML) was the highlight, so keep an eye on him.
In my view, they should have ended the show after ep. 9, which was amazing. It was a free fall after that…
I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to prejudice @manukajoe’s watch experience–everyone has different watch experiences, after all!–but my overall assessment was that the show was decent but not great. My concluding sentence from my write-up:
“Mildly entertaining fantasy romance with a decent enough script, serviceable performances, good production values… you could probably do better, depending on what in particular you’re looking for, but you could also definitely do worse, so.”
(I didn’t find the central romance particularly interesting or compelling, although strangely enough, I like both of the actors (Jo Bo-ah and Lee Dong-wook) fairly well; nor did I find the central conflict that compelling. But that’s just me!)
I agree; and I feel this show could have done so much better. Even great characters, such as Kim Beom’s, were more or less left unexploited. But, as you say, let’s not predispose anyone else that wants to watch it!
I actually like the dialogue quite a bit, and think it’s profound at times. Also I am not very interested in Rang as a character at this point.
Although I appreciate that he’s better developed than many villains, which I always think is a good thing.
If you’re still in the first third or so of the Show, I get it, because I thought Rang was basically kind of an annoying git at the beginning. It was his journey and evolution as a character that made him interesting, to me at least.
(If you’ve progressed into the latter half and still don’t find him very interesting, well, fair. Different strokes for different folks, after all..)
Yes I’m still early in the show.
I am one that LOVED Goblin, and it’s what motivated me to start a blog, ironically. Also, LIVE is probably one of the finest examples of ensemble dramas. You HAVE to watch this. And Romantic Dr. Kim. I swore off medical dramas until I saw this and only because it was recommended by a friend. Seo Hyun Jin and Yoo Yeon Seok have the steamiest kiss ever in it. And where I (and the rest of the kdrama world) was introduced to Yang SeJong. Seriously, one of the best medical dramas you’ll ever see, I promise. And The Untamed. You have to get through to at least the 7th episode before you make a decision here and it’s the 15th before I really was on board. Binge watch it, it’s so much better. Forest of Secrets is probably one of the best kdramas ever made. Yep, that’s how high I regard it. Heavy in dialog, so it can bog people down, but acting, cinematography, plot are all there. Good luck finishing some of these!
I love Goblin so so so much! I am currently rewatching it right now, and would love to start a watch party or something of the sort! I did experience a bit of a shock with Goblin, as I felt it was different from my OG experience, but I’m also much older, so that may be why. I still love it though. I have plans to watch Romantic Dr. Kim. What’s Forest of Secrets?
Forest of Secrets is also called Stranger: It’s a police and law procedural, but with an unsolved murder. I hate these types of dramas, btw, so me saying it’s the best kdrama ever is a BIG deal.
I WOULD LOVE a Goblin watch party. It’s the sort of drama which is very enjoyable to rewatch. I think it’s Gong Yoo’s acting and the whole melancholy tone of the show.
I second the motion!
Hey Gloglo, let’s do it. You can email me at email@example.com, and anyone else. IDK how else to get contact info haha but I’m so down. 🙂
Hey Gloglo, let’s do it. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and anyone else. IDK how else to get contact info haha but I’m so down. 🙂
Yes, how ironic, that I couldn’t get through Goblin, but it inspired you to start a blog! Then again, I know that most folks loved Goblin, and I am in the minority in not being able to get into it. 😉
Thanks for weighing in on the various shows.. looks like I need to bump Dr. Romantic up the list! As for The Untamed, I am so exasperated that so many C-dramas are so lonnggg! 😝 It sounds almost bizarre, that you only got into it properly at E15 – when most kdramas we consume actually finish at E16! 🤯😆 Very useful for managing my expectations, though, thank you! ❤️
I want to say something about Goblin, I am halfway through. I think it’s an unusual show in that, as you say, the story itself is not very strong and it’s very slow moving. The show is mostly just cute and clever/funny and stylish. It doesn’t take itself at all seriously, which I didn’t expect. Also the situation I think is very strong. I love it.
I agree with you. The story seems weirdly odd and old but somewhat original (throwing an old plot into a new setting). It is very slow-moving, but it is a “slice-in-the-life” show, even though the show was advertised and has been stated as otherwise. The thing that makes this show seem unique is that we actually get to see these characters build their relationships with each other, and that itself is the plot, especially for much of the middle episodes. This type of content has been made before, and is actually making a comeback (think Hospital Playlist, etc.) where relationships are the plot, in essence. The thing is, since Goblin is of the fantasy genre, I think people expected some loud, outrageous plot with lots of extravangza, as anything in the fantasy genre seems to be. However, it’s very much not. We essentially get a reality show with these five main characters, plus Samshin, and towards the end, we see the true plot shine through. Right now, it’s a lot of conversations and character development, which is unexcepted for this genre.
I think what happened with many recent viewers is that they hear from many others (the majority) that Goblin is “it’s phenomenal!”, “it’s amazing!”, “it’s a fantasy!”, “it’s so epic!”, “it’s beautiful”, and things of the sort, and many viewers have gone in expecting something very different, despite maybe knowing the plot. When I watched this for the first time, four years ago, I was well-aware of the pacing, and the showrunners made the audience aware of the type of course they took in executing the plot. However, since it’s been four years, I think many past viewers have forgotten this component.
I’m not trying to convince you change your opinion or anything like that, 😅 I just advise you to approach this show expecting more “slice-of-the-life” content (plus I just really wanted to get my thoughts out there 🤓). However, since you are halfway through, and the true plot is somewhat taking form, this lens might make your watch even more enjoyable.
I’d love to hear what you think! 🙂
I think you hit the nail in the head there, manukajoe and Shriya. For me the attraction of Goblin was in the romantic atmosphere and beautiful cinematography, the melancholy of the god’s life, the platonic love between the aging god and the young woman, which eventually turned into something else, the sad love story between the the king and the queen of Goryo, defying lifetimes. The cute, the slice of life, the silly comedy was not what I loved the most, but it did not bother me.
I’m not one in need of a coherent through-line in my dramas. I don’t mind a story not going (or not appearing to be going) anywhere if I am enjoying the characters and their dynamics, and I believe and enjoy the world the drama is offering me. I’m not analytical like that. If something hits me in the feels, no matter how trite, cliche or stupid that something is, I’m all in.
Of course! That’s perfectly valid haha 😅; I’m a writer, so I happen to look at a lot of dramas (and tv shows/movies in general) with a very analytical mindset, which is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, when I just want the feels, I start analyzing what exactly about the drama is causing these feels, and why. I’m one to figure out an explanation for any plot/logical/production/execution choice, and since Goblin is so highly debated in general, I have done the most analysis for that show out of any kdrama. For example, even for a show as amazing as Hospital Playlist, I find myself having to keep writing different details done, which has definitely hindered my experiences. I think that’s why shows and dramas from when I was younger have a much more profound impact on me personally, rather than the other way around, for most people (understanding hidden meanings and relationships, etc.), even though kdramaland has been really picking it up lately! 🙂
That is very interesting. I can see how knowing the inner workings of a story can dispel the illusion… I do a bit of writing myself and I know what you mean. I suppose I find myself doing that kind of dissection at some point, preferably during my second viewing of a show.
Maybe because I’m not a writer by trade I have the ability of letting a show just speak to me, without getting caught up in the analysis, just experiencing the characters, letting them reach me, or not reach me, at a gut level. I, for example, watched Secret Garden last year for the first time and just loved it. I’m aware that many who have watched it that recently do not agree with me, mainly because of the male part and his obnoxious act. I have rewatched Secret Garden many times and realised that I liked the part so much because the writer and the actor had made sure to show glimpses of tenderness and pathos even in his most overt domineering actions, ie: trying to wipe out a nightmare with the gentle touch of a fingertip after furiously removing a pair of Oska socks (lol), wearing a ridiculous yet very expensive tracksuit that “Italian artisans have made stitch by stitch”, being ever so caring while saying sh*t like “you’ll never be Miss Korea”… These little details are what made Kim Joo won’ so lovable in spite of his glaring flaws. That, for me, is great writing and it’s not that easy to do…
Another strength of Secret Garden is that the writing doesn’t shy away from showing how internalise ideas about money and class directly affect our relationship with others, and how these socio-economic barriers are probably the hardest to overcome. Some plot lines were weird, I will not deny that, but the chore message of the story was loud and clear.
Is Secret Garden a show you have analysed yourself, Shriya?
I finished Goblin last night and I loved it. I think I benefitted from not having seen these actors in other shows before (except Yoo In-na), or many other shows like this. Probably there were plot holes but I tend not to worry about those too much, and just go with the story as presented. Loved the casting, acting, music, story, cinematography, dialogue, humour, heart. 10/10
OMG YAY! Welcome to the post-Goblin club. If you ever feel a Goblin Fever, listen to one of the score tracks, called Dark Walk, and it brings all the feels back. Highly recommend. Good luck finding the next show to watch. 🙂
I think I will watch Crash Landing on You, my friend likes it and it sounds interesting. I watched Ep 1 already. But first I will finish A Love Most Beautiful, as I am learning Chinese and this is one of the rare good Chinese Dramas.
I have not seen Secret Garden, but I will take your analysis, as the show is high up on my list. 🙂 Very interesting!
I thought Misty was amazing, but yeah the last two episodes were a mess.
Totally agree about Misty!
Thanks for confirming that! I feel a little more vindicated for dropping it, heh. 😆
I still think it is worth watching, i had me hooked until the end.
Yes, I did not expect the surprise reveal! The last 20 minutes could have been handled in a more satisfying manner.
To be honest I found the resolution of the case very unsatisfying, almost like they were making it up as they went.