Group Watch: Poll!

Thanks everyone, for your many suggestions, thoughts and contributions on the Group Watch brainstorm! 🤩

Lots of worthy titles were floated, and as promised, I sifted through all of them, and shortlisted the most popular titles for this poll.

Thanks, too, for your consideration, in worrying that the show picked might not tickle my fancy. I’m happy to say that this shortlist is made up of shows that I have watched and loved, as well as shows that I’m duly curious to check out. What this means is that whichever drama we end up watching, I do plan to provide episode notes for it. Woot! 🤗

Some considerations

Before diving into the contenders who made the shortlist, here are what I think are the main considerations to keep in mind, while making your choice:

1. Availability

We want the Group Watch to be as accessible to everyone as possible, so free streaming options are always the best. Remember that you can always use Opera’s free, built-in, unlimited VPN to get around geo-restrictions. A tutorial on that can be found here, and an article on why it’s not illegal to use a VPN to access legal streaming content can be found here.

Bearing in mind our desire for maximum availability, this does put Dear My Friends at a disadvantage, because that seems to only be available on Netflix. If you know of other legal streaming sources, for this or other shows on the list, feel free to share that information in the comments!

2. Commitment

As Geo put it so eloquently, viewer fatigue can arise for any number of reasons, so do take the amount of commitment needed for each show into consideration, as you make your choices! I’ve broken down the commitment needed for each show below, so that you can easily tell at a glance, what kind of commitment each show would entail.

Contenders

Here are the shortlisted dramas. The poll itself is at the end of the post. You may select up to THREE options! But if you just want to vote for one, you can do that too. You may also revote, if you change your mind.

Poll goes till end of 23 February 2021, my time (GMT+8).

Nirvana In Fire [China]

One of the best – if not the best – dramas I have seen. So well-written, and so well-acted, and also, clearly expensively produced. It’s intricate and meaty and does benefit from a group watch setting. One downside is that it’s dubbed, like most Chinese dramas tend to be, so you don’t actually get to hear the real actors’ voices, except for Hu Ge and Wang Kai, whose real voices are used. Review is here.

Commitment: 54 episodes. 3 eps per week = 18 weeks. This is a significantly longer commitment, so do consider carefully, while making your choice for the poll!

Availability: Available for free on Viki (US and Europe).

Money Flower

The best revenge drama I’ve watched (though admittedly, I haven’t actually watched all that many of ’em). I loved this, and thought Jang Hyuk‘s performance in this is as iconic as his performance in Chuno. Money Flower review is here.

Commitment: 24 episodes. 2 eps per week = 12 weeks.

Availability: Available for free on OnDemandKorea and Kocowa. Also available on Viki, if you have Viki Pass Plus

Dear My Friends

Everyone who’s seen this says it’s fantastic and absolutely worth a watch. I’ve also been warned that we should prepare tissues, if we’re going to watch this one. I’ve also been told that it’s so meaningful, and the cast is so sublime, that it’s completely worth it.

Commitment: 16 episodes. 2 eps per week = 8 weeks.

Availability: Unfortunately, this looks to be only available on Netflix.

Beautiful Mind

I’ve heard that this is solid and worth the watch. I’ve also heard that it might feel a bit slow at first, but it picks up after a couple of episodes. Also, it’s Jang Hyuk. 🤩 Fair warning that there is reportedly no romance in this one. Edit! I’ve been informed by dear Drama Fan, that there is, indeed, a romance in this. It’s just pretty muted, is all. Sorry for the misinformation! 😅

Commitment: 14 episodes. 2 eps a week = 7 weeks.

Availability: Available for free on OnDemandKorea. Also available on Viki, if you have Viki Pass Plus, and on Kocowa, if you’re on a paid subscription.

Dr. Romantic

So many people have so many positive things to say about this one; one of the most notable, for me, is that you don’t need to actually like medical dramas to enjoy this one. Reportedly fantastic and heartwarming. Trigger warning, though: I’ve heard that there are suicide attempts and a character with suicidal thoughts, at least in the initial episodes.

Commitment: 20 episodes + 1 special episode. 2 eps per week = 10 weeks (maybe 11, if we take on the special episode?)

Availability: Available for free on Kocowa, OnDemandKorea, iQIYI and Viu. Also available on Viki, if you have Viki Pass Plus.

While You Were Sleeping

On the upside, I’m told that this one is surprisingly good and that the connection between the leads is very meaningful. On the downside, this does give off pretty strong I Hear Your Voice vibes (it does come from the same writer), so it might feel a bit déjà vu in spots.

Fair warning, it does seem like viewers are divided on this show; some say it’s Lee Jong Suk‘s best drama, while others say that the writing’s a mess.

Commitment: 16 episodes. 2 eps per week = 8 weeks. (Also listed as 32 half-hour episodes, in which case it would be 4 eps a week = 8 weeks.)

Availability: Available for free on iQIYI and Viu. Also available on Viki, if you have Viki Pass Standard, and on Kocowa, if you’re on a paid subscription.

Poll

You may select up to THREE options! But if you just want to vote for one, you can do that too!  You may also revote, if you change your mind.

Poll goes till end of 23 February 2021, my time (GMT+8).

What shall we watch next?
  • Dr. Romantic 22%, 136 votes
    136 votes 22%
    136 votes - 22% of all votes
  • While You Were Sleeping 20%, 126 votes
    126 votes 20%
    126 votes - 20% of all votes
  • Nirvana In Fire 17%, 104 votes
    104 votes 17%
    104 votes - 17% of all votes
  • Dear My Friends 16%, 102 votes
    102 votes 16%
    102 votes - 16% of all votes
  • Money Flower 15%, 95 votes
    95 votes 15%
    95 votes - 15% of all votes
  • Beautiful Mind 9%, 57 votes
    57 votes 9%
    57 votes - 9% of all votes
Total Votes: 620
Voters: 347
February 17, 2021 - February 23, 2021
Voting is closed

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MyKDramaticLife
MyKDramaticLife
5 months ago

From the top 6 list, I only have watched Dr. Romantic 1 and While You Were Sleeping.
I don’t feel like re-watching a show now.
So I choose Dear My Friends or Money Flower. 😊

merij1
merij1
5 months ago

I don’t remember the details, but it’s not that expensive to subscribe to the Plus version of Viki if you only do it for a few months. I’m pretty sure you can go back to the free version at any time.

phl1rxd
5 months ago

Hi Fangurl!

That poll is pretty nifty, I have two favorites in the above list – NIF and Money Flower. That being said, I believe that Money Flower may be an easier watch than NIF (if they get top 2 spots) simply because of the number of episodes and the amount of characters in NIF.

If either one gets selected I will join in. NIF is a masterpiece in every way and Money Flower is so intelligently written and outstandingly cracktastick. IMHO, Money Flower is a close tie with Chuno for top Jang Hyuk performances. Also, the original subbed NIF just came back on Viki in December which is a good thing. I would take the plunge again (deep sigh, for the 10th time) for NIF and Money Flower (for the 3rd time).

The other dramas are just not for me although I am sure everyone would very much enjoy them. Here’s to the winner whichever drama that may be!

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

I hope sooner or later we do have a NIF group watch, just to have you pontificate the science on it. It doesn’t have more characters than Chuno really, but the beginning is hard to follow because the screen writer chose to reveal things about the main character in dribs and drabs well into the show, that imo, were not actually necessary to hold back on, especially with enough info about his backstory to allow someone to understand who in this world he is. Still it is a masterpiece and a wonder, and I will probably comment on my recent viewing of it on KFG’s review after the polling is done. And I do want to know if/where you got an English translation of the novel. Also, have you seen other Chinese productions that one liking NIF might enjoy?

phl1rxd
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Hi BE! I apologize for the delay in response to your question on the NIF post. I am going to answer it here again just in case someone would be interested. Google Lang Ya Nirvana Word Press blog. Several translators worked on this novel but she has gathered all the links together (thankfully 💖) on her site. Yes, I am a NIF nerd.

The hardest part of watching NIF in a group watch would be trying to address questions without spoilers. 🤔 There would be a lot of them due to the reason you stated above. Note that the screen writer is also the actual writer (Hai Yan) for both NIF1 and NIF2.

As for other CDramas like NIF, well, there is really nothing to compare it to. I watch as much CDrama as I do KDrama (this year I am sticking with a lot more CDrama for some reason). My top CDramas are NIF1, Story of Minglan (slow burn about a strategically smart young lady), Longest Day in Chang’an (outstanding production value + lots of suspense), Joy of Life1 (has an incredible scene chock full of beautiful classical Chinese poetry – BE, you may really like this one). I loved Ancient Detective as well. All of these are period dramas with little focus on romance. I usually do not watch a lot of palace lady dramas so I could be missing a good one. Maybe Sean could throw one in here as well as he also watches a lot of CDrama. Some of the other readers may also have suggestions.

What kind of dramas do you prefer?

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

@ph1lrxd Thanks. I will look it up. In re NIF, because I can understand the timing of the reveal about the specifics of Mei Changsu’s illness, for example, even if I think it was not really necessary to hold that back for about forty episodes, that would not be the kind of thing necessary imo to share, but if one just understands his basic backstory and general motive it makes the story easier to understand. I made sure I understood before my second attempt and that did not spoil anything for me, but made the show comprehensible for the first few episodes in a way it was not the first time I tried to watch it. More over on the NIF post in a few days.

As far as my likes. I like quality. It would be hard to define by genre. NIF is the only C Drama I have seenand with a couple of caveats really dug it from beginning to end; checked out the Longest Day in Chang An and gave it up cause I could not keep up with the action and subs simultaneously. I get the general critiques laid out in K’s post and the comments section following it, but I might just watch a few more episodes to see if that changes for me.

What I like in K Drama–Sageuks–Queen Seondeok, 6 Flying Dragons, Deep Rooted Tree, Chuno, Sunkyunkwan Scandal, then a big jump to Nokdu Flower and Mr. Sunshine. Contemporary–slice of life with at least some mature and older characters: Secret Love Affair, My Mister, Dear My Family, Reply 1988. Not a big fan of rom coms but very much liked Coffee Prince and Be Melodramatic. Though I tend to like American and European suspense, a lot of K suspense leaves me flat–either too visceral or too cerebral one or the other. I tend to think fantasy is very difficult to be convincing, but I very much liked It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. As has been true all my life in my life, I like interesting women, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually (the last think Consort Jing) in my dramas not just pretty faces. And the same goes for men. I like complex and highly flavored supporting characters and good ensembles. I tend to think of good melodramas as B-B+, but throw in an A level actor as in Doctor Romantic, and I have to admit, I like the page turning aspect of some. Story telling, characters, acting. But if a show has “it,” whatever the genre, whatever the reason, I am willing to check it out.

phl1rxd
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Hi BE,

The First Half of My Life. Fangurl has a great review on this. It is a well written story with mature characters. There is also a new CDrama that I am patiently waiting to be subbed called Min Ning Town with an excellent ensemble cast.

It may help you out to check out AvenueX on YouTube if you are interested in CDrama. Fangurl turned me onto this valuable resource (thank you dear FG 😍💖💖) several years ago. I would recommend her year end videos. She reviews only CDramas.

Do take a quick peek at The Story of Ming Lan (Fangurl has a review on this) and Joy of Life. To be honest, I thought to mention Joy of Life to you several months ago when you mentioned your bond with poetry. In fact, AvenueX devotes 4 videos just to the poetry in Joy of Life’s E27. Also, Winter Begonia is well done and features Beijing Opera which I find quite fascinating.

I get NIF comment notices so if you post over there I should get an email. Imho, I do not know if there will ever be another drama as good as NIF, There is a NIF3 screenplay but Daylight Entertainment is keeping it under a shroud of secrecy. Not sure if the original author has written this screenplay and whether it is a prequel or sequel. She is the heart and soul of this series. 🤞

I like sageuks but I cannot watch two at the same time or consecutively. I have Queen Seondeok, 6 Flying Dragons and Tree with Deep Roots at the top of my list. That should take me a good long while to get through these 3. I am looking forward to them. I may give Doctor Romantic a peek. I am not a big fan of Medical dramas but this seems different.

I will keep my eyes and ears open and let you know when a quality CDrama comes through! I hope you are enjoying reading NIF and you are staying healthy, warm and dry. I know Texas went through a rough few days last week. Hope all is well!

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

@ph1lrxd: thanks, my list just opened up with all that. I might have said it in the NIF post, but Queen Seondeok takes place at roughly the same time period in Korea as NIF. They are quite different in many ways–all those conniving consorts in NIF would have done well to apprentice themselves at the foot of Mishil; heck the male villains in NIF could have taken nefarious lessons from her–especially given that the two main characters are women, but having seen them one before the other in the same two month period, I found them quite complementary, each having virtues that the other lacked, both great.

phl1rxd
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Thanks for the Queen Seondeok recommendation. It in next in the queue. I will let you know if anything is of the quality you are looking for. Also, not sure if you would be interested in something heavy duty but The Long Night is excellent, albeit very, very dark and somber. Stay warm!

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Hi @BE. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post links but here’s where you can find the translated chapters of the NIF novel (https://www.novelupdates.com/series/nirvana-in-fire/) original title is Lang Ya Bang. Lucky you, they’re wrapping up the translations (maybe 1/3 of the last chapter left?) you get to enjoy it in one continuous reading.

phl1rxd
5 months ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

You are so right Jiyuu – five years is a long time!

BH
BH
5 months ago

I’m a fairly new lurker on this site (really enjoying the reviews and discussions BTW) and also new to the Kdrama-verse in general. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong, but when I go to OnDemandKorea and look at Beautiful Mind for example, the episodes don’t come with English subtitles. Am I missing a step, or are most of watchers on this site not needing subtitles?

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Hi Kfangurl, Beautiful Mind is available on Viki (but titled “A Beautiful Mind”)

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Oh shoot! Good thing is not winning the poll? 🙈 lol

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

That show is a total underdog! Even in this poll 🤣 Awww come here my sweet little show. I still love you.

Antonio
5 months ago

I am watching Dr. Romantic these days and it is truly engaging and exciting!

Prashil Prakash
Prashil Prakash
5 months ago

Yo! Let’s go!

This is great. Cuz the shows look good too.

I’m totally onboard specially cuz some of these shows were in my watchlist too!

seankfletcher
5 months ago

Of those listed, Money Flower is my absolute favourite. In fact, it made such an impression on me I can still recall much of what happened as opposed to the hundreds of other dramas I have watched in the meantime 😉

Kay
Kay
5 months ago

I voted for While You Were Sleeping and Money Flower both of which If found enjoyable. Money Flower is the better drama as a whole (everything is done so well), but While You Were Sleeping has broader appeal (a bit sloppy at times). Interested to see how the poll plays out! 🙂

merij1
merij1
5 months ago

I did vote for three, but they all look pretty good, so . . .

As for While You Were Sleeping feeling like a retread of I Hear Your Voice, when did “repeating a good thing” become a negative for lovers of K-drama? lol

Sharra
Sharra
5 months ago

So I voted for NIF ( not sure I have the dedication to watch it alone without a group watch). Beautiful mind for obvious reasons and Dr Romantic just because of the comments/ recommendations here. I got up to episode 5 with While you were Sleeping it just didn’t work for me.

Ele Nash
5 months ago

Oh, surprised While You Were Sleeping is in the lead, though I haven’t seen it so could be good with mixed opinions.
I voted for: Money Flower (no brainer for me as it is sublime and could possibly watch a hundred times and not get tired!), Nirvana in Fire (usually we have similar taste, kfangirl, and I know you rate this show very highly so am curious), and Dr Romantic as planned to watch this one anyway.
I am still grieving for Daegil and Chuno, but so looking forward to a new group watch! Xx

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

After reading final thoughts on Chuno, I so wish for a meaty drama to win for the group watch. I just saw that Dr Romantic took the lead and I would so prefer that one to While you were sleeping. Im always game for JH dramas especially the two in this poll as both are in my top, but, I think for non JH hard core fans (like you and me) maybe a break from all the Jang Hyukness might be a good call 😀 (I may still go ahead and do my own Money Flower rewatch cause I already miss him lol! Im a Hyukaddict and not even trying to get cured)

Ele Nash
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Drama Fan, we could do an on-the-side Jang-Hyuk-addicts watch of Money Flower and discuss via carrier pigeon. Who on earth couldn’t stand to watch back to back Jang Hyuk dramas?! 😁 Oh, ok, lots of people. I actually just started rewatching My Country for a fix 😍 God, maybe we do need help…

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Wait, is carrier pigeon an actual digital service or are you suggesting real pigeons? Poor things! They’d get so tired with our loads and loads of pages of JH fangirling. Actually, I have another proposal. I’ll contact you on twitter for more details.

Ele Nash
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Yes, maybe it would be cruel on the pigeons 😂 I have replied! Xx

BE
BE
5 months ago

Nirvana–a big, sprawling, twisty, turny, brainy 6th C China Northern and Southern Dynasties period historical epic with flying swordfights in beautiful costumes and interesting support players.
Dear My Friends (having seen four and a half of these, I think this is the best, most humane, and best lead ensemble of those I have seen, but I am not sure if the focus–a bunch of old women dealing with being old women–and a mighty actor in each role–is for every person, not escapist in the least).
Money Flower (though it would probably be nice after Chuno to give Jang Hyuk a breather; for my part anyway, Dae Gil is an impossible act to immediately follow)
Doctor Romantic (not all that deep, but Han Seok Kyu is a beast in this, a well oiled emergency room–lots of surgery talk and opened up bellies, etc–melodrama–very good ensemble, villainous villain, lo-o-v-e with Yoon Yeon Seok and Seo Hyun Jin)
That said, I will go with the flow.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

BE, have you watched Radiant? What you said about Dear my friends, reminds me of that one, which I think would be so great for a group watch in the future as well.

merij1
merij1
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Same actress as well! (Kim Hye-ja, that is.)

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Started to, following a review of KFG, but did not get past the second or third ep. Don’t remember why. I have said it so many times I feel like a broken record, but Dear My Friends had 9 lead actors, all good, 7 of them great, and good support, one great. Kim Hye Ja was terrific, hardly the only one.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Radiant is unapologetically “weird” at first, but then it all makes sense, like a puzzle that seems incomplete and then boom! (do not look for spoilers if you ever plan to pick it up again) I found it very affecting emotionally. I will definitely watch Dear my friends one day (even if it doesn’t win this poll)

merij1
merij1
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

I finished Radiant and thought it was great. Certainly it is moving.

However it’s not for everyone. We started watching out of shared love for Han Ji-min, but my wife dropped out early on, long before the true nature of the show was revealed.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  merij1

I agree on that. It is definitely not for everyone and I selfishly want to lure others to rewatch it because I wasn’t sure I was “getting” certain parts lol. Thank goodness I was sharing with one friend who watched it before me, otherwise I’m not sure I would’ve stuck with it at all, but I’m glad I did.

merij1
merij1
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

If you still want to talk about it, post something at KFG’s review page and I will reply!

Drama Fan
5 months ago

Voted Nirvana in Fire (first watch), Money Flower (rewatch I intended to do on my own) and Beautiful Mind (love it, and keep pestering Kfangurl to check it out although at this point I may have pestered too much, drama is endearing but not flawless so maybe I should calm down about it :D)

Ele Nash
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

I agree kfangirl ‘should’ absolutely watch Beautiful Mind as Jang Hyuk is great in it, especially when paired with Heo Joonho, and Park Sodam is pleasingly likeable and determined. It is flawed, not least the premise / explanation of Jang Hyuk’s character’s condition. I think I read the episodes got cut and maybe then story choices got messed up a tad. It’s still very good, though, and deserves our group watch consideration! Xx

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

It irks me so much that when media outlets talk about Beautiful Mind now, they assume the ratings were bad because of the episode cut and they state “low ratings” as if they actually looked up the ratings and they’re citing a fact. For anyone considering watching, that wasn’t the case at all! The production was waiting for Park So dam to be available as she was shooting Four Male Cinderellas or some such title. That delayed the start of Beautiful Mind by two weeks which then would’ve caused it to run over into the next show’s time slot – hence the cut.

merij1
merij1
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

It’s one of the three I voted for.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

Beez! color me surprised! I, the self professed JH ultra fan did not know this! (or did i? and I forgot?) Either way, thanks! Its an important distinction.

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

I recall it vividly because I was waiting for Beauty Mind to start. I didn’t care one wit about Park So dam at the time so I was very, very annoyed that the series was waiting for her to be available. Although I did watch what has become one of my favorites – Becky’s Back (aka Return of Baek hee) which filled the two week time slot with its 4 one-hour episodes.

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Here’s the article that came out while we were waiting https://www.dramabeans.com/2016/04/beautiful-mind-gets-delayed-kbs-schedules-4-episode-drama-in-interim/

There are many more articles about the delay in getting a female lead and that they were doing script read throughs without one.

Okay, I was wrong… slightly. The show did have low ratings but that’s not why it was cut. Mainly it was the delayed start, which made the network want the writer to cut it down to 12 episodes right out the gate. Then excuses were given of broadcasting the Olympics, etc. You can read about it here

https://www.dramabeans.com/2016/07/kbs-cuts-medical-mystery-beautiful-mind-by-2-episodes/

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

Yes, I remember the last part. The drama struggled from the get go even casting the male lead but in the end, despite its issues, its one of my favorites. Its not perfect but I love it. The production got really close (perhaps partially due to the internal struggles) and reunited a year later, including JH and PSD for a dinner. When the drama ended being cut, I remember someone from the production protesting strongly on social media, even crying because it was a beloved project to him. It was a true underdog that drama, had bad ratings but a lot of love from many of us who watched it and the people that worked on it.

Ele Nash
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

Oh, ok. Thanks, Beez! It must be so gutting when a show you’ve poured yourself into gets low ratings. Like I said, I did really like it. It would have been an interesting group watch to see how people read Jang Hyuk’s character. I loved especially the flashbacks to his youth.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

@ Drama Fan: Even if it doesn’t win, Nirvana is worth watching. I started when I thought by reading posts it would be the selection, and it hums along. More cerebral than most K sageuks, and the lead is a pale, skinny fellow suffering from some fatal consumptive illness, a genius righteously and painstakingly grinding his axe against a rather cosmic injustice in his past, and the characters are all quite memorable. Interestingly around the same time period as the more visceral and kinetic Queen Seon Deok, which I liked just a bit better, making for an interesting China/Korea back then compare and contrast. However, Nirvana is told more evenly, with greater subtlety, whereas Queen Seon Deok, which in my opinion should be considered a three season epic (1–Deokman; 2 The Fall of Mishil; 3 Bidam & Seon Deok), takes some time each time taking off after the previous section comes to its apotheosis. If you have the time for a long historical drama, I recommend both.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Oh I love Queen Seondeok! It was my first historical korean drama and what promoted me to look for more and thats how I encountered Tree with deep roots and then Chuno (hence, Jang Hyuk, my obsession lol) but yes I loved that drama and its possibly the only long kdrama I watched twice! I even bought the DVDs (again, privilege reserved mostly to JH dramas) I definitely want to watch NIF but I can be so dense and those first eps confused me a bit so I would love to watch it in a group like this.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Yeah, it takes awhile to understand what is going on in Nirvana, so much in medias res at the beginning. I dropped it the first time I started, but this time because I thought it might win I took the trouble to read about the plot and enough of K’s review to get the gist without engaging in too many spoilers. Thus by about ep 5 or 6 I was up to enough speed, and the plot is so insistently intriguing–literally full of intrigue–after that there is little or no problem because one gets the confidence what one does not understand now, one will get later on. I do think it would benefit from conversation, however. Maybe if not this time, later. Historical drama has a particular set of followers and as with Jang Hyuk, maybe two in a row would be a bit much for the wider fan base.
If Dr. Romantic wins, well I watched it for Han Seok Kyu alone, and he more than rewarded me in that role. As I have said elsewhere, Han Seok Kyu (in Deep Rooted Tree) is the only actor I have seen side by side with Jang Hyuk who upstages him. Charisma dripping in this from the man’s scalpel. One bad, bad hombre surgeon, without a doubt, and the ensemble is quite fetching as well.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

I know you must be referring to TWDR and I agree but to be fair, Ddolbock was not such a well written three dimensional characters as the King Sejong was. Im not disagreeing that HSK is not a great senior actor with loads of charisma but I have my doubts he would’ve upstaged a JH in Daegil mode. JH understood and created Daegil but he struggled with Ddolbock as he admitted himself in an interview, he wasn’t sure he was “grasping” the character (and I know why, he wasn’t all that well written, he was merely an idea on paper that wasn’t very well developed and as you know JH likes to flesh out his characters in communication with the director but it seems that PD didn’t have the same disposition, it happens) Jang Hyuk in his element along with someone as good as HSK would complement each other and create something wonderful and we would never feel one is upstaging the other (sort of like a Daegil – Jiho tandem, etc)

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Han Seok Kyu’s natural partner has been Choi Min Sik–they played side by side in a post TWDR film about the Sejong Era, Forbidden Dream, not as good as I hoped, but that was because what could have been a 16 ep series was boiled down into a movie. Oh I would love to see something with Choi Min Sik, Han Seok Kyu, and Jang Hyuk all together.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Ahhh the legendary Choi Min Sik. I second that wish! 🙌

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Go to KFG’s Dream Drama page for my Jang Hyuk/Choi Min Sik dream sageuk, “Po-Eun and Yi Bang Won On the Bridge.”

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Ooooohhhhh! Yi Bang Won!!! Po Eun! (Ok now this is officially canon in my mind)

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

I certainly didn’t think Han Seok Kyu upstaged Jang Hyuk at all! Although admittedly HSK was masterful in his role. Like I said earlier (but technically later because I hadn’t read this post yet 😆), Jang Hyuk brought a lot of range to his character in Tree.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

He did his best for sure but he did admit in an interview that he was struggling with it and at some point the character became stagnated in his evolution (imo) HSK is without a doubt an amazing actor but his character was also much more dynamic and three dimensional, you combine those two things good character + good actor and thats the result. Its similar to what happened with Lady Mishil in Queen Seondeok, yes, the actress was fantastic, amazing, superb! but she also had amazing lines all throughout whereas the Queen herself became stagnated at some point. Gumi (my co blogger on Stuck on Hyuk who is korean) told me that this is a known “issue” with these particular writers, they tend to get enamored with one character and start to unfortunately relegate others. I wouldn’t go as far as to affirm that, I didn’t perceive things to be “that” unbalanced and its true that sometimes actors steal shows when something magical happens and they become extra inspired. What I think though is that good direction and writing and them being in synch with an actor is what makes the magic, which is why, even the best actors can come off terrible if not well directed and viceversa.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

@Drama Fan: In Queen Seon Deok there was far more there there to Go Hyun Jung’s performance than just her lines. And I quite thought that Lee Yo Wan was good as Queen Seon Deok, her support characters being far better fleshed out than Mishil’s who were more caricatures than characters, so Lee Yo Wan was not able to stand out so much. But in fact, Nam Yi Hyun as young Deok Man had more je ne sais quois to her than Lee Yo Wan did as well.
Jang Hyuk in Chuno isn’t great just because he has the best lines; even though he does, there so much more to his performance in it.
If you see Dear My Family and realize that Go Hyun Jung is also the lead character in it, and you watch her–that woman can act. Nah, I do not buy that it was just that Mishil had the best lines. She flat out dripped with charisma. She was as evil as it comes, but she was irresistable. Can you think of any villain in any piece quite like her?
This to me is like saying Kim Hee Ae is only good because of her lines. Really, sorry, I have seen Jang Hyuk all by himself carry otherwise mediocre dramas; he dusts the entire cast of My Country, something really not worth watching except for him.
I have Han Seok Kyu in several things–he is something special and he has more range than Jang Hyuk does imo, though he is not half the physical actor.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

I wasn’t saying that Mishil was just her lines. I was referring to the combination of factors that need to “work” in order for a character to stand out. Many actors think outside of the realm of what is written and they imagine a backstory, sometimes committing more to the character than the director. Jang Hyuk is that kind of actor but he has not always succeeded because in order for that kind of work to bear any fruit the director needs to either embrace the actor (it happened clearly in Money Flower, Chuno, Fated to love you) or at least let him do his thing (My Country) when the communication with the director is not as tight for x, y or z reasons, the end product, normally, suffers. I give you examples about JH because it is the korean actor I follow but Im sure we can find others. JH said he struggled with his characters in TWDR and Midas (then again, he always struggles because he is that dedicated, like a student who always strives to get an A. You’ll never see JH phoning it in). But even if he hadn’t said it you can notice a difference in the productions where he was able to collaborate closely with the director Vs the ones where there wasn’t that freedom (due to PDs being more focused on the action or time constraints or seniority issues etc) Anyway, going back to HSK Im not questioning wether he is an actor with more range, he probably is, I take your word for it. Ive often heard he is a well respected actor who has done a variety of things, movies so I bet he is on another level as you say. My argument here is, Ddolbock was not JHs strongest character or interpretation from JH at all. And that is completely unrelated to HSK. Daegil, Piljoo, Lee Gun and Lee Young Oh, in my humble opinion completely upstage Ddolbock. That is my point, you don’t have to be a great actor to upstage JH as Ddolbock because imo, he wasn’t “that” great not even by JHs standards. Therefore, Im not surprised he was upstaged. Like he was “upstaged” by Kim Jae Wook in Voice. And is KJW a stronger actor than JH? (Honest question, I haven’t really seen him in anything else lol) What I mean is JH in his element, is not “easily” upstaged, not even by any other amazing actor with more range, JH in his element (like any good actor in his element) would shine in scenes with said great senior actor. JH “out of his element” can get easily upstaged. I love him but he is not perfect. It is what Ive observed.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

You know, and I will get some hate for this, because in part I thought Money Flower dawdled coming to a finish and was about four episodes too long, and because revenge dramas like heist dramas turn on gimmicks, I actually thought Jang Hyuk in Bad Papa, for all the problems inherent in it, was more compelling (and I thought he was way more compelling in My Country–sageuks in general seeming to me better suited to Jang Hyuk’s talents, especially with regard to his operatic voice work and flair in physical scenes, than contemporary pieces).
And the opening scene of Tree is simply classic Jang Hyuk. So I have a different take than you about him. I think it is unfortunate that he has been typecast, and I think he would be much better suited for the tight scripting in movies to do contemporary stories than tv dramas with their often need for endless melodramatic plot complications, pretentiousness, and pretty face love interest, ie. the women he is opposite are rarely three dimensional, even more rarely his equal as actors.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

You won’t get any hate. We’ll just disagree on some things. I loved his acting in Bad Papa. I just thought the drama was unnecessarily depressing and dark but great vehicle to showcase his skills. As a fan Im very satisfied with his evolution as an actor, even if his latest dramas haven’t been successful. But I see him maturing as an actor ever since Money Flower, being much more in command of his expressions (much less OTT overboard moments, almost no bulging eyes these days), playing much more with his voice. I loved what he did with his voice in Tell me what you saw. One reason I loved Money Flower was his pairing with Lee Mi Sook.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

A wonderful wistful Han Seok Kyu early film somewhat available is Christmas in August. Of course if Dr. Romantic wins, you will see him in that, not quite as three dimensional but so riveting. His support role in The Royal Tailor, a sageuk, shows off how even when playing a support role, his screen presence is off the charts.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

@beez I am just an opinionated and biased old coot. Haven’t you noticed? Yuk. I do get a kick out of squeebie nation, so glad to see all of you, and you in particular, kick up your heels. And goodness knows, when it comes to Jang Hyuk, you are not alone. Still I am a shameless teaser as well.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

@Drama Fan: PS you read all my comments about Jang Hyuk in the Chuno threads–did you get the feeling I underestimate Jang Hyuk?

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Hi BE, again, Im guessing this was in response to Ele’s comment about Seol Hwa? But anyway my answer is I know you very much appreciate JH as an actor. We just appreciate him in different ways and as you said to Beez you love to tease us Squeebies, and we love to overreact! Thats all 😆 Its what we do!

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez: Unlike you dear beez, I am not blinded by the male abdominal muscles. There was not a scene in which Han Seok Kyu was on screen when he was less the focus of attention, and that certainly included every scene with Jang Hyuk. And I actually think that Tree With Deep Roots is one of Jang Hyuk’s best roles.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Oh, I totally disagree on Ddolbock being one of his best roles. Tree is one of the top 10 dramas he has been in (maybe?) but not his best role. And I know this was for BE but Im willing to bet she agrees Its not about the abs at all. Us women are not as blinded by male bodies as men tend to be with female bodies. We are attracted by other things. JH didn’t show much abs in TWDR nor did he look sexy (Tree was my first JH drama and I found him fun and exciting to watch but not even handsome until the middle of the drama) To me it has always been about his very expressive eyes. He doesn’t even have a six pack anymore. But anyway, Ill shut up now! I forgot this thread is about our next group drama which looks might end up being Dr Romantic.

Ele Nash
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

I would like to but in here too and agree, Drama Fan. I said on another post that what I love most about Jang Hyuk is his unwavering commitment to each role, regardless if he’s ugly choking crying on a hard boiled egg or barely emoting anything other than through a twitch of an eyebrow. I only care about his physique in how he uses it not what it looks like. Most shows he’s clothed anyway. Money Flower he’s suited, Beautiful Mind he’s in doctor’s gown. But it’s him, as those characters with not an ab in sight, that is compelling and brilliant and why I think most people love him and want to watch him. He is a good-looking man, no question, but he’s not actually that handsome, not compared to others out there. But his talent to convey character and emotion is what makes him straight up beautiful.

Sharra
Sharra
5 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

I agree Ele. I have only watched JH in Fated to Love you and Money flower. And I fell in love with JH when he returns the shoes in the cabin scene when he kneels down. Can I explain why? Not at all. But through that scene which is probably ten a penny in a K drama. He made me realise that Lee Gun was a decent ,upstanding caring guy despite his silliness. I still to this day to do understand what he did in that scene for me to make me fall so hard. I also didn’t think he was particularly attractive until that scene. I was planning to write of the drama and that point.
As for Money Flower he would have won Baftas, Golden Globes galore had that been in shot on U.K or U.S. Love the egg analogy.

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  Sharra

@Sharra – If you do find time to watch all of Jang Hyuk’s dramas that pre-date Fated to Love You, I think you should then rewatch FTLY. FTLY was like a dedication to his past projects. There are so many little references to his past roles (including the Chuno theme song which shows up when things get exciting). ☺

Sharra
Sharra
5 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez That is a great suggestion. I definitely do need to do that because I missed quite a lot of the insider jokes in FTLY.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

I cannot think of a role in which women swoon over Han Seok Kyu or mention his body parts, as they do almost every time Jang Hyuk is mentioned. That is the reason I made the comment, not that we got ab rolls from him in Tree. Jang Hyuk gets points for things with women Han Seok Kyu does not. That is okay with me, dang if I were about 25 years younger I would drool some myself over Go Hyun Jung. But I am not as susceptible for that being part of my Jang Hyuk love as those who do feel that way. Thus, I am not given to unconsciously upgrade Jang Hyuk in a way that says, Han Seok Kyu didn’t upstage Jang Hyuk in Tree With Deep Roots, when in fact Han Seok Kyu was what made Tree With Deep Roots so great, in the same way Jang Hyuk make Chuno great.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Ok BE, I’m not going to try to convince you but just want to say I completely disagree. I (I know Beez said otherwise) but I did agree with you that HSK was the center of Tree and he upstaged everyone (although when I watched the show I enjoyed the whole ensemble cast and how they interacted so I wasn’t giving too much thought to this until it was pointed out by my korean friend). My only argument was, Ddolbock wasn’t a great character and JH wasn’t completely in synch with PD, therefore its not a fair comparison of acting range or skills in general when I, feel, that JH is capable of more (based on other works) But If you say, you’ve seen both actors in many works and in your opinion HSK is a better actor, I accept that. However, and here is one key thing you are overlooking, at the end of the day this is all a matter of taste. Not taste in abs or men’s beauty but taste in acting. Just like in your opinion and a lot of people’s opinions HSK is simply a superior actor, there are those who probably do not see it, are not moved by him like you are etc and conversely are moved and convinced by the likes of JH, others will say Gong Yoo is better than both (just to throw a name). So, saying that we are “blinded” by JHs physique sounds a bit dismissive. Especially since we are explicitly giving our reasons to like him, that are not related to his physique. Why an actor moves us more than other is not a matter that we can measure with a ruler. Its not math. And no it cannot be “simply” explained with this guy has abs and this other doesn’t. Maybe consider the possibility that we are not blinded, and maybe just have different preferences, experiences and are moved by different things. And I hope you believe me when I tell you, as incredible as it may sound to you, I never found JH to be handsome or sexy in TWDR, I was intrigued by his intense gaze at first, then by his action skills, then by his comedic acting etc Yes, it wasn’t his best role (when I compare it to other works of his I see it, he went OTT here and there) but it was enough to show me he was a fun, ultra expressive, emotive, dynamic actor to watch and made me curious about his other works. This doesn’t detract one ounce of the attention HSK commanded and deserved as the King. But then again, I would never even have thought of comparing them. To me the cast complemented each other.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

@Drama Fan: Oh certainly taste differs from person to person, including what influences that taste. One thing I have found here where so many posters, though certainly not all, are women is their focus on male actors is different than their focus on female actors.
I am so old that the very young and beautiful women actors I see look like my granddaughter, and those more mature are my daughters’ age, so while I am not immune to the heavenly charms of beautiful women, they tend not to affect me in quite the same way.
In addition, while I can appreciate masculine attractiveness, as I said before, seeing, say, Jang Hyuk and Han Jung Soo and the immediate response they engender, I can remember going down a number of rivers in my late twenties, quite stripped down, where neither of those gentlemen would be considered anything more noticeable than every other guy on the trip, none of us considering ourselves movie stars or idols, and lucky, when we had them, to have girl friends. And my friends were scientists, adventurers, professionals, as well as poor back to the landers living simple lives on organic farm properties.
So what I am drawn to first and foremost is artistry, then technique, and screen charisma, of which attractiveness may or may not be apart. Or vice versa–with Jang Hyuk his charisma informs his attractiveness and Chuno really shows it off to beautiful effect.
But this: I noticed Han Seok Kyu because he was the first actor I saw in a series acting side by side with Jang Hyuk in which Jang Hyuk actually almost disappeared when they were on screen together in Tree With Deep Roots. And to this day, I cannot think of that being the case for me in any other drama in which I have seen Jang Hyuk.

beez
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE – I haven’t commented this time on your assessment of those of us who are Jang Hyuk fans because 1) I’ve explained it to you before and 2) because of my fangirling you aren’t going to accept whatever I say as having any objectivity anyway so…

Ele Nash
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

I think you’ll find we discussed and adored Soelhwa as much as Daegil, unfortunately the actress hasn’t been as prolific as Jang Hyuk. In Money Flower, I loved Min Sook (as in, her acting as her character was despicable!) as much as Jang Hyuk. I have watched as many dramas because I’ve liked the actress as much as I have because I like the actor.

I think fangurling is essentially hyper-enthusiasm about acting, story and character when it comes to drama. I disagree, BE, that it’s about lusting after actors – though the odd flail, as kfangurl brilliantly puts it, is inevitable. But that’s so much less significant than the rest of it, for me anyway.

BE
BE
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

@Dramafan: no one, no matter how much they loved Seol Hwa spoke of her body, forget about swooningly talking about her body. Her face a bit, but that was it. There is nothing wrong with finding people erotic, etc. So why deny that is part of the deal?
Even though I would find it a bit silly to swoon over her, I am not immune to Go Hyun Jung as Mishile (or as Park Wan in My Dear Friends); she projects an enormous amount of womanly erotic charisma; somewhat like Jang Hyuk, it is hard to take your eyes off her when she’s on screen. If someone said I inflated my admiration for her, I’d probably say just as you are of Jang Hyuk, yeah, but she can act! I do not think Kim Hee Ae projects half that amount of sheer erotic je ne sais quois, but I do think she is a better actor.
That’s all.

Drama Fan
5 months ago
Reply to  BE

Hi BE, I think you were responding to Ele 😋

Trent
5 months ago

At least on my (U.S.) version of Viki, Nirvana in Fire is available both in the English dubbed version, and separately in the original language with subtitles version (I would watch the original language version, personally).

I think I would be happy with any of these, as they will all be first watches; I’ll just vote for the ones I was already intending to maybe see someday on my own…

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
5 months ago
Reply to  Trent

I think what she meant was that even the Chinese version is dubbed also to make the language/pronunciation standardized. I’ve always been wondering what’s off in some Chinese shows I’ve seen and this may be it (that they dub their own actors’ voices). That’s why Jang Hyuk’s dramas cannot/shouldn’t be dubbed, imagine losing all those inflections and tenderly spoken moments.

I’m open to all group watch suggestions so I’m probably not voting. I watched Nirvana in Fire probably four times (every time I introduce the show to someone, I end up rewatching with them), read the book which they finished translating just now (years after the show aired), and I’m still looking forward to watching it as a group.

Wait, maybe I should vote for Dear My Friends because it has been languishing in my to-watch list for a long while now and it’s one of those shows which I know should be good but I probably won’t start unless I rouse myself to it. And maybe Beautiful Mind since it’s the shortest and so KFG can watch it at last.

Trent
5 months ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

Ah, sorry, I missed that nuance, I didn’t realize that redubbing in Chinese dramas to get uniformity was a thing.

Ally
5 months ago

Money flower gets my vote. I just finished Fated to Love you and really anything with Jang Hyuk is just fine with me! And why I’ve only now watched anything at all with him in it even knowing how much you heart him, I have no clue and I should beg the drama gods for forgiveness. I missed your Chuno watch, but plan on binging this at some point soon too! ❤️❤️❤️

MC
MC
5 months ago
Reply to  Ally

hahaha me too. i’ve not watched a single jang hyuk show and need to remedy that asap. and thanks KFG and everyone who seconded my suggestion for Money Flower!