If you didn’t already know, we’ve got a special series to kick off the new year! Guests posts, by patrons on Patreon, sharing their personal drama stories, mostly around the topic of “How did you get into dramas?” and “What does your first drama mean to you?” – with flexibility to go off on personal tangents, of course. 😁 Feel free to share your stories too, in the comments!
This guest series is MC‘s brainchild (thanks MC! ❤️). You can check out the earlier posts in this series as follows: MC, Sean, Shahz, JJ, Martina & Beth. After today’s post, there will be three more guest posts by mystery guest writers, whose identities will be revealed when their various posts go live. Woot! 🥳
Today’s post is brought to you by Uyen, whom you may seen around the blog for some time now. I’ve realized that Uyen has lots of drama thoughts, and I’m so pleased that she’s taken the time to share some of those thoughts with us today!
Uyen also writes about dramas on her own blog, which you might like to visit here!
I hope you guys enjoy!
~ KFG ❤️
I’ve totally loved hearing thoughts from everyone on their stories and dramas (thank you, MC for having this idea, and everyone who’s shared!), and I’m so happy to share some of the ones that I have a soft spot for. Not all of them are necessarily my top favorites, but they do stand out to me in some way.
Note: I do link some MVs here; if you’ve watched the dramas I mentioned and liked them, re-live all the feels! Otherwise, be warned that some of the scenes might be spoilery (maybe?) if you were interested in watching them. Or they might pique your interest like they did for me!
Early drama memories
So I have some memories watching ‘80s Viet-dubbed Legend of the Condor Heroes, along with my siblings, but sadly, I don’t remember much of it anymore, and don’t know where to find the series now.
First proper drama
The very first full drama I can remember watching, was Hana Yori Dango (HYD).
I can’t remember exactly how and why I started watching it, but I think I was reading some manga and probably came across some discussion of HYD, and was intrigued enough to start watching. Somehow, I got sucked in. (I sort of blame Jun Matsumoto/Domyouji Tsukasa’s curly hair making me feel some type of way.)
Looking back now, it has all the high school tropes, but what can I say, I was younger, and squealed over the man-child lead who couldn’t hide his emotions, and was a secret dork.
I didn’t realize then, that the manga-drama franchise was so huge, and had so many adaptations! What I loved about this, was that I found out later that so many people around me watched Boys Over Flowers, like my siblings and even some high school friends whom I hadn’t expected would watch Asian dramas.
Now, one of my favorite things, is to find out that other people also watch dramas, so that we can talk and vent about them, and swap recs! Who knew this would be the start of something beautiful.
More – and more! – dramas!
HYD made me interested in dramas, and I watched some more.
Out of the high school dramas I watched, I’ll always have a soft spot for Shut Up Flower Boy Band.
Who wouldn’t root for an underdog rock band navigating class, fame, friendship?? I loved-loved those boys, and I loved their ride-or-die bond. I think it was special to me because I was a bit jealous, not having that sort of friendship! While other dramas I watched centered around romance, this was special to me and made me feel all the feels, by exploring friendships as relationships.
I was content with the way the arcs were wrapped up, and the characters’ actions always stayed in character to me, which I didn’t realize was not something I could always expect from a drama, *cough cough * (insert shade at your fav drama that falls into that trap here).
Also “Jaywalking” and “Today” were great OSTs (although I did laugh that the band played like 2 songs in the whole drama).
I stopped watching dramas for some time just because of life, but like many, when the pandemic started, I picked up watching dramas again, to find comfort in stories.
There are two dramas I consider my second gateways, and the first is dear to me: Second 20s/Twenty Again.
I remember barging into my friend’s room one day in college, and seeing her watch this drama. A song was playing, that stuck out to me, “Do Not Love Me.” I remembered the scene, and that song that somehow stuck with me, and some years later, I asked her what drama it was again, found it on Netflix, and that was that.
I got sucked in again.
Again, I couldn’t help but root for the underdog, this time an ahjumma living her best university life and I felt all the feels, seeing her learn to fully love herself.
My second gateway would be a pretty popular one. My friends tease me for liking Goblin lol because none of them do, but I got into it pretty immediately.
I actually didn’t know about the hype over it when I watched it, which I think helped a lot, otherwise I probably would’ve thought it was overhyped.
I actually started watching it because I somehow found and really liked the song “Wish” by Urban Zakapa and was intrigued that it was from a drama. So I started watching the drama, and truly, there was something about the melancholic and bittersweet story that hooked me from the beginning.
Putting aside any criticism about the story, I don’t think it can be denied that the show has some really nice cinematography and gorgeous music. And the best word for me to describe my feelings watching the show was that it was so atmospheric. Like, I can still see and hear one of the scenes where Kim Go Eun is biking in the dark with “Hush” by Lasse Lindh playing in the background. Sigh.
I laughed and cried after watching this, and felt a bit empty inside after, as all good stories make me feel. Such is the power of art. This is just one of those guilty pleasures I have to admit to.
One of the things I’ve learned to look forward to when starting a new drama is, will I have this sort of unexplainable but fierce love for it?
It’s a hard feeling to describe, but I felt it when I watched Just Between Lovers/Rain or Shine.
I remember telling my friend when I was just mid-way through, that it was a drama of my heart. Meaning, when I watched it, I just had this sense that I totally vibed with it. I think the beauty of it, is that I didn’t really expect anything from it when I watched it, but it just happened like that. I felt like the characters’ reactions to their contexts were very understandable.
Lee Kang Doo is my weakness and one of my fav male leads, and Ha Moon Soo also is just so sensible and empathetic; they are one of my favorite OTPs.
I love how the drama discussed grief and we how all grieve in very different ways; how grief/trauma stay with us and manifests differently; how guilt comes up; and also, the power of human connection and relationships.
The accident that sets up the framework for our story was based on a real incident, and so I do think it was very important that the drama was respectful towards survivors and families in the story it was trying to tell, and I believe it did that well.
It deals with how people find grief and disaster uncomfortable, delves into memory, and asks how do we remember, and why do we remember/who are we remembering for? Ugh.
Interestingly even though it does make me cry with the subject matter, I find it uplifting too, so it is a comfort watch for me.
The other show that I had similar feelings for, was Thirty But Seventeen, even though the mood of Thirty But Seventeen is much more upbeat and wholesome to me.
I watched it for Shin Hye Sun, and actually thought, from the synopsis, that it would be very serious and dramatic. So I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be more wholesome, and lighter in some ways, than I had thought it would be, based on the premise.
Gong Woo Jin and Woo Seo Ri are also one of my top OTPs; they are so delightfully wholesome.
Woo Jin is kind of an unassuming male lead, but his honesty and straightforwardness made me swoon (one of my favorite romantic lines he delivered was not actually a traditional romantic line I think; at least, not the kind usually delivered, because he wasn’t even saying it to her, but it still made me swoon!).
Like Just Between Lovers, I forgave a lot of the flaws and tropes in this drama that I normally might’ve harped over. Did not want to let this one go after it ended.
And finally, the last drama I want to share that is special to me is Oh My Ghost.
This drama is dear to my heart because, like Goblin (which I didn’t even remember until writing this post, that I also started watching that one because of an OST. Wow, and I guess Second 20s too), it reminds me of the power of music and how one of my favorite aspects of dramas are the OSTs.
I have a very long Spotify playlist that I listen to, and for the best ones, I can recall the exact scenes they were played in, and all the emotions I’d felt with the characters in those stories. That’s powerful.
I actually started watching Oh My Ghost because I found one of its OSTs first, “Leave” by Park Bo Young.
It immediately caught my attention with its sort of melancholic melody, and somehow, I decided to watch the music video. There was a particular scene from the drama showcased in the MV that looked so wistful that I was hooked.
The premise of the drama was sort of ridiculous, but also hilarious to me. And while I didn’t love the romance, I truly loved Park Bo Young flipping between two very different characters, and I also loved Kim Seul Gi as our feisty ghost.
Kim Seul Gi’s arc stole my heart (when is my girl going to get the lead in a full drama??), and I loved the duality of both girls growing into themselves and coming to terms with their identities/personalities in very different ways.
So that’s that,
..just a slice of some of the dramas that hooked me.
I’m very excited for all the new stories I have yet to dive into. And writing this, I realized I have a thing for getting reeled in by OSTs, and also, dramas with a wistful/poignant/grief-in-some-way-yet-also-kinda-hopeful bent, so if you have any recs for those, please send them my way!
Thanks for your heartfelt post. I especially like how you highlighted your feelings from watching your favorite dramas. I watch clips on YouTube to bring back those feelings. So glad you volunteered to share.
Wonderful post! I have never been drawn to a drama by hearing the OTS first but I do listen to the ones I find meaningful afterwards. I rarely re-watch anything (the group watches being the only K-drama exceptions to this ever), so listening to the music is my way of re-experiencing the feelings that I would have gotten from the original show. So, we are agreed on what a role music plays in the K-drama experience (and other shows and movies and….).
I too saw OMG (excited to use the acronym!) early on and I also loved it at the time – enough that it cemented my interest in continuing to seek out dramas. (It was my show #2 and, if I hadn’t liked it, I’d have been, well those were interesting, but back to, uh, whatever). And I too am a member of the Kim Seul-gi fan club and loved her performance, as I did Park Bo-young’s, which was a tour de force. And while I understand your and some of the other folks’ views that the romance in the show was sorta meh, I personally found Kim SG’s character’s story very compelling – imagine having a time after your actual life is officially over to ruminate on what was undone and what was lost. And I was touched by the relationships between the co-FLs.
Thanks so much for sharing. Who knows – maybe there’s enough of us who haven’t seen Goblin that we could even watch it together. Not that I would think that would ever happen. 😉
Oh so lovely! I love the shows you love (went to your blog) so we have pretty similar tastes! Since you like Urban Zakapa (I do too) you might like This Week My Wife Will Have An Affair. Thought provoking, on affairs and the internet (yes weird combo, I know) but it was very well done and Urban Zakapa feature heavily on the OST and it’s perfect.
I do love Kim Seul Gi and Park Bo Young in Oh My Ghost! I have Thirty but Seventeen and Just Between Lovers on my to-watch list.
So Goblin is on my list to watch. Thanks for sharing your loves, Uyen!
@Uyen – this is a great post and I really enjoyed it. I loved the ending scene in 30 but 17. I remember feeling really happy about that ending, Loved Oh My Ghost as well. I am in the Goblin boat with you – it is my #1 KDrama.
Thanks for taking the time to share this with all of us. Great job!
A very nice post, Uyen. That’s interesting re the Legend of the Condor Heroes. I was looking into it again the other day. The original version that you reference in your post can be found at OnDemandChina, however, no dubbing and no English subs. Then, I found the Indonesian subbed version on YouTube.
I agree that Kim Seul Gi is fantastic, and she is also a wonderful comic. I have seen her in eight dramas (but not Oh! My Ghost) two specials (including Splash, Splash, Love) and one movie.
That’s an intriguing way of how you got back into dramas through Oh! My Ghost. I have thought about watching it a few times. As for, Just Between Lovers it is a drama that I put on-hold very early on and have never gone back to it. I keep getting distracted by all the other wonderful dramas out there 😊
@seankfletcher – Kim Seul Gi is in Splash, Splash, Love?!! YAY!!
Oh you have to go back to Just Between Lovers!!!! Have to 🙂
Oh! My Ghost is well not on my rewatch list except for certain parts, but its an awesome OST!!!
Ooh, thanks for the heads up Sean about Legend of the Condor Heroes!! I have no idea what the experience would be like without Eng subs or dubs but I’m intrigued to just watch some scenes for memory’s sake.
I have not seen Splash Splash Love yet but it is totally on my list!! I’ve heard it referenced for a) people who liked Kim Seul Gi, and b) people who like the fusion saguek aspect of Mr. Queen, and both apply to me so I have a feeling I’d like it.
I understand about all the amazing dramas….my list is never ending at this point, and I haven’t even gone outside of kdramas…
Uyen – check out this video for all the versions of Condor Hero – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxrhbSyEz3s. A few of the links have moved but I have this video bookmarked as I use it a lot. The 2008 version is on Viki but I wish it was the 2017 version which I like better.
Also – the 2008 version has Hu Ge and Ariel Lin. This photo shows him before his accident. I am working my way though this 2008 version now.
More versions of the book are shown here – https://lujuba.cc/en/317854.html
Thank you for the links!! I have nostalgia for the ’83 Legend and Return but I’m so glad to hear from you some of the newer ones like from 2017 are good, I have to check them out now. Thank you also for the link to the overview on the different versions, I can still recognize the opening themes, indeed iconic lol
WOW, Uyen! Someone who also loves Goblin AND Oh My Ghost! AND Just Between Lovers!!!! I LOVE IT ❤️❤️❤️
I so loved Kim Seul Gi as the fiesty ghost. Oh she was fantastic and I echo your sentiments that she needs to be a Female Lead in a Drama !!!!
I, too, didnt love the roamnce for Oh My Ghost, but WOW did I love the full OST! Its a little jazzy in some places 🙂
Shahz loves Second 20’s and I just havent been able to get into the drama. I will try again 🙂
Thank you for writing so beautifully about Just Between Lovers. I love that drama so much 🙂
Thank you for sharing some of the songs from Goblin. I didnt remember Wish at all!!!! Who can forget Hush though?!?!
And you blog as well! How fun. Ill have to stop over there more often 🙂
Great post! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Love seeing you when you pop up on the Drama Exchange 🙂
I know, so exciting you like all of those lol, they are very different in some ways so it’s very nice to see someone enjoy them too. Yes! I know what you mean about the jazzy OST haha.
I can understand that about Second 20’s, there’s parts I probably would not rewatch, but in the end I can’t help but root for her.
I feel like I am a broken record about Just Between Lovers, and I remember you said you’ve watched it 4 times (!!! amazing!) — it has my heart.
Honestly Wish played in exactly *one* scene, I think, because I was waiting for it the whole time as the reason I even watched the damn drama but it showed up in either ep 15 or 16 if I remember correctly. Yes, Hush is gorgeous and one of my favorites.
Hahaha, the drama blogging is sporadic, but I will add more stuff as I keep watching! Thank you for reading
Hello Uyen! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve said it before, let me say it again: how nice it is to read all your stories. K’s place always felt like a community (both the main blog and of course, Patreon), but it now feels like I’m meeting up with friends. Thanks to all of you!
Hana Yori Dango is one of the earliest Asian shows that I have watched. I did when I started dating my husband and of course, at the time, everything Japanese seemed exquisite to my eyes. Well, almost everything: I dropped HYD pretty soon, coming to think of it now I was not in the right age to enjoy it, too old I guess. And after all those years, I have even found the courage to admit to my dear husband that I actually thought Boys over Flowers was more enjoyable, at least the parts of it that I have watched. Low production qualities and bad acting, yes, but it has Lee Min Ho! My husband has been ever since a sworn enemy of Lee Min Ho…
Lol, Natalia re your husband and Lee Min Ho 🤣
I think I was precisely in the right demographic for HYD lol! So it was harder for me to watch Boys Over Flowers after, but I understand about LMH lolol
Great post, @Uyen! I finished watching Just Between Lovers just a week ago and it is now one of my favorites. I also like stories about lost souls finding hope and healing, so I understand why this drama is so special. 30 but 17 is another favorite as well. If you are looking for dramas about lost souls finding hope, I would recommend It’s Okay To Not Be Okay. I liked it so much that I composed 8 piano pieces inspired by it. The original soundtrack is very good. Another drama with a wistful vibe and a great soundtrack is Because This Is My First Life.
Wow, you compose piano??? I totally would love to hear the pieces inspired sometime, that’s amazing. I didn’t mention it here, but I did totally love IOTNBO for character growth – the beginning was harder for me to watch, but I remember being pulled in by Kwak Dong Yeon’s brief scene and ofc Oh Jung Sae and our sweet trio by the end. I ADORE Because This Is My First Life, it’s one of my favorites for how they showed the relationships
@Uyen, here is a link to my guest post with music inspired by It’s Okay:
Ahhh, the soundcloud links didn’t work for me! Bummer, but I loved reading your sources of inspiration and what stood out to you. The scenes where she’s standing on the balcony, the smile, and the family portrait stood out to me too. Very cool, thank you for sharing, Snow Flower!
@uyen, I am sending you a link to my Soundcloud tracks. I hope it works:
Here is the whole set of 8 pieces on youtube:
@Snow Flower Looks like the links stopped working because you changed your user name on Soundcloud.. I’ve just updated the links in the guest post – it’s all working again now!! YAY! 😃
Thank you, @kfangurl! I am in the process of re-recording the pieces and hope to make them available on all streaming platforms in the near future.
Ooh nice! 🤩 Do let me know when that happens, so that I can update the post accordingly! 😃
Ooh yes I see they work now in the post too, thanks KFG!
Snow Flower!!!! Your songs are so beautiful, I’m so glad I’m able to listen to them (my go to study music rn). Lighthouse in the Rain and Family Portrait are my favorites, and Shadow Cast By Butterfly Wings is also eerie and totally in line with the dark fairytale theme of the show. I loved reading through your post while listening to the music and felt all the feels again, especially with Smile and the child-like innocence you mentioned – reminded me of **SPOILERY BELOW**
the what-if scenes of a high school Gang Tae and Moon Young meeting each other in the street and Sang Tae gently teasing and wingmanning his brother. I cried.
Lovely post Uyen!
I also LOVE OSTs and have 3 separate playlist. A slow/ballad one, a mid tempo one and a fast one 😂. I like things to be organised like that + I know which play list to crank up when I’m in a certain mood.
A friend has been trying to get me to watch Oh My Ghost and I haven’t been interested for the longest but you got me at Park Bo Young singing an OST. She can sing ?!?! I’ll definitely put it on the list.
Omg that is so organized, I just dump it all in one but to be honest, most of them are ballads, so not much of a problem haha!
I get it if you don’t get into it, but yes her OST was very haunting/poignant to me!
Thank you so much for the recs, Ella!! I especially loved Wish even though I haven’t seen Hometown. Also have not made it through CLOY but I love the soundtrack like Someday, Here I Am, and I Give You My Heart! I also liked a few others on TKEM like Please Don’t Cry and Dream. OSTs are truly a highlight of my drama watching (or even if I don’t watch the dramas I enjoy them lol)