All About Love Stories: By Jaco_4950!

In case you missed it, we have yet another guest post series to enjoy, this month!

Unlike our previous guest post series, this one was kind of an accident, almost. I have Ele to thank for this one, because it was her innocent question about something, that made me casually talk about the off-the-top-of-my-head, hypothetical possibility of a guest post series on love, in the month of February, in honor of Valentine’s Day.

So many folks on Patreon responded enthusiastically to this idea, that I felt that it would be remiss of me, not to actually make it happen, come February.

And so, here we are. This month, we will enjoy a total of nine guest posts from patrons on Patreon, on the topic of love stories. The brief is pretty flexible, in that, each writer is free to go deep, or go wide, on anything around the topic of love stories in Dramaland. I feel like we have a lot to look forward to, this month! 🥰

You can check out Uyen’s inaugural post here. Today’s post is brought to you by Jaco_4950, whom you may have seen around the blog, as well as on Patreon. Today is the first time Jaco_4950’s introducing herself to us properly, though, and I’m so glad that we have this chance, to get to know her better!

I hope you guys enjoy!

~ KFG ❤️

Hi all,

What a great topic, to celebrate romance + Korean Dramas.  When the world is full of daily grim news, what better way to escape for a while during February, with exploring this genre further.

Firstly, a bit about my K Drama journey.  

I started with my first drama in May 2020, so not even 2 years yet, and I have watched 42 dramas in that time.  Around 10 K-movies as well.

I live in Australia and was stuck in lockdown, like so many others, from around the middle of March 2020, and after a couple of months, the novelty had well and truly worn off.

(Little did I know that by the end of 2021, Melbourne, where I live, would end up being one of the most locked down cities in the world. Hence I am so lucky I found this new hobby early on, as it has kept me very busy in the endless nights and weekends when we have had nothing much to do.)

Anyway, in those first couple of months of Covid, I felt like I had watched everything Netflix had to offer, in the usual British, American, Australian type shows I traditionally watched.

On many recommendations, I started with some Scandinavian shows (like the Bridge), and whilst that was very good, the gruesome and death type genres they are known for, just made me that bit sadder, given the state of the world at large.

I have a subscription to the Guardian and during some daily news reading, came across this article one day. This really captured by attention, and I had nothing to lose at this stage, given I already had the Netflix subscription, so I decided to give this Crash Landing show a go.

That crash landing show.

Little did I know, just this one article had bizarrely changed my life!

The subtitle part was fine for me, but the length of the episodes really put me off, at first.  I struggled through the first episode and pushed into the second one, which is when the cliff hanger of the second one – the decision point is so clear in my mind – hooked me.

[EARLY SPOILER FOR CRASH LANDING ON YOU] Hyun Bin’s character Captain Ri has to think on his feet and pretends Yoon Seri is his fiancée. [END SPOILER]

I love a pretend love story trope, that you just know is going to become a real love story. I blitzed the rest of the show in record time. My family thought I was mad, and wondered what on earth was going on, as I cried, laughed, listened to the soundtrack, then watched the whole 16 episodes again.

Anyway, I was then completely lost. I had no idea, at that stage, how many hundreds of Kdrama shows there were; I really had led a sheltered mainstream mostly English-viewing life, before then.

I asked around at work in any zoom call I was in (I think they thought I was mad too, as I would start every meeting with, “Does anyone watch KDramas?”), when finally, a colleague connected me with someone they knew, and that person suggested Descendants of the Sun next, which I dutifully watched.

It is a shame, as I think I might like it more now, but at the time, Hyun Bin and co were such a hard act to follow, that I didn’t buy into Song-Song too much.

I was thinking that was it, I wouldn’t try any others, when another colleague tracked me down one day, as she had heard of my requests for anyone to provide me recommendations, and she told me that I might like “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim”.

Having no idea who Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young were – which is now hard to believe – I started that one and totally loved it.  Whilst the plot is not the best part, the combination of comedy and romance, plus how self-absorbed Park Seo Joon’s character is, and how he just nails it, totally sucked me in.

It was then that I started actually googling the stars, and reviews, and discovered this website.

I have just enjoyed so much, the lengthy reviews, and working out my next drama based on the ratings. Have to say we don’t agree on everything (eg. CLOY should totally be A++ and not B++ and dropping Encounter how could you! 😊….) but otherwise, all good!

I feel like this community is a really good bunch, and just want to be engaged in nice and interesting topics. It has been so refreshing.

After Secretary Kim, I binged almost all available shows of Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young, and also caught up on any of Hyun Bin’s that were available to me.

Later that year, I also got a lead on Coffee Prince and my Gong Yoo obsession celebrity crush also started at that point.

I don’t just watch romances, by the way, I have expanded my repertoire quite nicely with shows like Kingdom and Prison Playbook being in my overall top 10. I also did jump on the Squid Game band wagon, mostly because it was so mainstream I had loads of people to actually talk to about it, like in person!

My Top Ten Romance Dramas

But keeping on topic for the romance genre particularly, I have listed my Top 10 here, and perhaps not surprisingly, No. 1 is still what I started with.

I have rated them based on how they made me feel, and also, whether there was a celebrity crush involved or not, has had some influence. Also a factor, is whether I would rewatch or not, which actually all in this top 10 I would – if I ever get through the 20 or so on my backlist, that is.

I hope you enjoy my list of great Korean love stories, and I would love to hear your comments and contrasts with others.

10. Hometown Cha Cha Cha & Oh My Venus

Shin Min Ah in my view is just a classic lead in these types of shows, though I know she has done serious work as well.

I really loved both of these, for their lightness and the romantic chemistry she had with the respective leads.

I have these tied at No. 10, as I think she deserves to be included in the list, and but I couldn’t decide which of these 2 I preferred.

Both leading males, Kim Seon Ho and So Ji Sub, are very good, in their different ways, but I can’t say they make me want to watch other shows of theirs; Shin Min Ah is the star here, in my eyes.

9. Encounter

This is the one of mine, that was noticeably dropped by KFG!  If you are thinking of watching this, perhaps don’t read that particular review first.., (sorry KFG!!).

I thought the age difference was quite nicely done, with the wonderful Park Bo Gum male character being nearly 30, and Song Hye Kyo’s character supposedly 35.

There was some very unrealistic behavior with the office catch ups, the interactions with the Board, PR dept etc, but overall, I loved the flip that she was the independent woman with a senior corporate position, and the male was in the junior graduate position.

Plus, he was just so divine!  So nice, charming, and he loved poetry, for goodness’ sakes, and he smiled all the time. And he was nice to his mum. Crazy stuff. The Cuba part was of course farfetched, but PBG’s hair and relaxed persona made up for it.

I wonder sometimes if there is anyone out there that also loved this, as some reviews are definitely not kind to it!!

8. Secret Garden

Hyun Bin in that blue tracksuit top and Ha Ji won’s action scenes – what’s not to like!

Except I could have done without the whole body-swapping story line, but it does make it funny and understandably a classic. Hard to beat that soundtrack too.

Given HB was my first Korean celebrity crush, I tracked down lots of versions of him singing.  I am past that stage now.

7. Fight For My Way

Park Seo Joon and Kim Ji Won – these 2 were great together, (though who isn’t Park Seo Joon great with).

A really good everyday life story, with the two struggling to make ends meet, and going from friends, to falling in love, as the story evolves.

6. Healer

This would be higher up than 6, if this was favourite dramas of all time list, given that it combines action, thriller and romance. But for this list, the romance element is all I am rating it on.

Another Park Min Young drama; she is a favourite female lead of mine, though of course, Ji Chang Wook steals the show here. Their backstory, and as they get together, sigh….

A really good, entertaining show, with amazing chemistry between these two leads.

5. Kill Me, Heal Me 

I watched this with KFG’s group watch.

I hadn’t been that interested in the scope of it before, as I had watched Hyun Bin’s Hyde, Jekyll, Me which wasn’t that good, and I’d thought this was similar. But, there’s really no comparison between the two shows.

This is a highly recommended watch for anyone’s main list, but I’d recommend it in particular,  for the love story. Ji Sung and the funny scenes with Park Seo Joon (again) are classic, but the stand-out for me is the intense romance between Ji Sung and Hwang Jung Eum.

4. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim 

I particularly enjoyed watching Park Seo Joon’s character evolve, and [HIGH LEVEL SPOILER] face the trauma from his and Park Min Young’s characters’ childhoods. [END SPOILER]

I thought they didn’t need the over-the-top wedding in the last episode, but up until then, it was great how perfectly romantic and classic happy-ever-after it was.

3. Love in the Moonlight / Moonlight Drawn By Clouds

Park Bo Gum and Kim Yoo Jung are just the cutest couple. And they were oh-so-young when they made this. What great talent was discovered in them; casting them as leads in a drama like this, totally worked. If only their chemistry could be captured and bottled for other pairings!

This show is also the only historical one I have in my Top 10. I much prefer contemporary shows, but I’d be interested to see which others are rated well in the other guest posts.

Queen In-hyun’s Man is not bad for the combo of historical/modern.  Given I have 2 Park Bo Gum shows in the Top 10, I am really looking forward to him coming out of the military, to see what he comes out with next.

2. Coffee Prince

Just like I hadn’t heard of any Korean dramas before May 2020, I had never heard of Gong Yoo either, and he remains the best surprise find, out of this whole experience. He’s one of the best actors in the world!

I have now watched almost everything available, that he is in, and the intensity he brings to his Coffee Prince character is my favourite, as [SPOILERS] he grapples with falling in love with a man, and then dealing with the devastation, when he feels so betrayed. [END SPOILER]

I felt so many emotions through this. I think Gong Yoo completely stands out from the rest of the cast, though obviously they are all good as well. I am sure the show does have flaws, but to me, there is none, it is perfect as it is, which is in itself interesting, given that it was made in 2007.

(As an aside, some of you may notice that even though I love Gong Yoo, Goblin is not in my top 10, in fact it is my bottom 10! Gong Yoo, Lee Dong Wook, and Yoo In Na are all great, and I like the plot fine, except for wishing the lead female was at university instead of high school.  The school uniform was her outfit in so many scenes with a 35 year old, it particularly got on my nerves; I just could not get past it.)

1. Crash Landing On You

[CRASH LANDING ON YOU SPOILERS] Who can forget the tragic, goodbye scene at the border, the backstory where their paths crossed in Switzerland, Hyun Bin playing the piano on the deck of the lake, or even the initial coffee making and noodle scene? [END SPOILERS]

Will this always be my number 1 romance? Or am I just keeping it there, as it was my first (kdrama) love? Will I always think these people really exist? Oh wait, they are in love in real life, so does that make the story real? Maybe seeing what the rumored Hollywood remake could do to this, will break the spell it’s had on me.. Let’s see.

In closing

So that’s it, for my top Korean love stories to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Thank you again to KFG for providing this opportunity to do a guest post, I feel very lucky to have found this excellent website/patreon content, and I hope to hear more “love” stories from others over the month!

~ Jaco_4950

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Elaine
Elaine
7 months ago

What a nice list of shows! BTW have you watched Her Private Life with Park Min Young? I really enjoyed that, the male lead Ryan Gold is scrumptious and so gentlemanly! Indeed PMY doesn’t seem to put a foot wrong with rom coms. I recently enjoyed Hometown Cha Cha Cha greatly!

Elaine
Elaine
7 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

CLOY was my gateway drama as well!! Haha, great promotion by Netflix I guess. The story I feel required a lot of suspension of disbelief especially in the last stretch but yes it was very enjoyable! Very chivalrous, old-fashioned romance.

Just wanted to add that another drama with some romance that I enjoyed was Pinocchio. The OTP of Lee Jong Suk and Park Shin Hye is adorable!

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

Hi Elaine! Thanks for your comments. I have watched Her Private Life, and I certainly like Ryan Gold, and interestingly, I really liked him in Coffee Prince when he was oh so young. It almost made the top 10. Its probably 11!! I will also have a look at Pinocchio I have not had that one on my list so thanks for the tip.

Ele Nash
7 months ago

Hello, Jaco! Yes, ooh, love your loves too! Ah, Gong Yoo in Coffee Prince is just the best 😍 and you can’t go far wrong with Hyun Bin as Captain Ri, agreed! Love in the Moonlight is great and, gah, Shin Min-ah is just adorable in everything I’ve seen her in. Who wouldn’t fall in love with her?! I really must get around to watching What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim… xx

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

and the news today re Captain Ri and Yoon Seri’s wedding, in Switzerland I assume…. oops I mean their real life names…. together forever sigh.

Su San
Su San
7 months ago

Lovely post! I am especially glad that you shared your experience with Encounter. Although KFG dropped it, I decided that I needed more screen time with PBG and ended up liking the entire show. CLOY was my gateway drama, too and I’m planning to rewatch after I get a few more essential-classic dramas under my belt. Thanks for sharing!

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  Su San

Thank you for being another Encounter fan!!!

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
7 months ago

I watched Encounter (didn’t know who Park Bo Gum was back then) and was alright with the story, the characterization and their chemistry. I was surprised that KFG dropped it (that fast) too but I can understand why it’s not a crowd favorite. Song Hye Kyo’s character was so reserved/stifled/guarded and the drama’s tone felt a bit… melancholic? Plus the fact that it was right after the Descendants craze.

As for CLOY, I love a lot of things about it—especially the loving portrayal of the North and Seri’s interesting family dynamics. I enjoyed the writer’s previous works too (The Producers, My Love from the Star, Legend of the Blue Sea) but was very lukewarm towards the two leads in CLOY that I couldn’t jump in
with the rest of the world. It’s just a personal preference. I tried Hyun Bin in other shows and Son Ye Jin too but it was just a tepid experience for me. Thus, the dazzle of CLOY couldn’t make up for my tepid reaction to both of them combined. But I understand why it’s universally loved. My brother, who doesn’t watch kdramas, liked CLOY.

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

excellent you seemed to tolerate Encounter ok, that’s enough in my book! CLOY I think its balanced that its not to everyone’s taste.

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
7 months ago
Reply to  jaco_4950

Oh. It was more than tolerate for Encounter though. I liked it well enough while watching it—just not to the point of rewatching the whole series again (which I do for my absolute favorites). Certainly it has some standout scenes that I’d always associate it with (like the lobby scene).

And CLOY is everything a blockbuster drama is/should be. If I had a bigger bias toward one or both of the leads, I’m sure I’d
be gushing about it as much as
the rest too! I’m fickle like that.

J3ffc
J3ffc
7 months ago

Great post, Jaco_4950! So interesting that you are yet another person on the blog to have been brought into the K-drama world by CLOY. I noted elsewhere, but will share with you here that for me, the clambake scene is one of the most warming scenes ever in K-drama (but yours are great, too). That’s a show that I’d gladly rewatch, but that will only happen if the Group Watch Gods (ahem, that’s YOU ALL) deem it so. And speaking of Group Watches, it is good to see that you are another finisher of Kill Me, Heal Me; it was kinda lonely there near the end. (And it looks like we’re getting ready to rev up Healer even as we write!)

Ditto on your take on Shin MIn Ah as being a K-drama rom-com MVP. One show that I’ve never seen but am tempted to check out sometime is Secretary Kim, which seems to stare at me every time I open Viki.

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

Thanks for your comments. Hope you like Sec Kim when you get around to it!

Sharbani
Sharbani
7 months ago

As a fellow Melbourne resident your words about lockdown after lockdown really resonated with me … K-Dramas kept me sane!! Thank you for sharing your list … incidentally my first foray into K-Dramas was What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim way back in Dec ’18! And like yourself it was like descending into a never-ending rabbit’s-hole with long internet searches, my all time fav Healer (have watched it about 7 times now), several hits and misses on Netflix (Eg. Doctors … I know, right? what was I thinking??), subscribing to Viki, of course CLOY and The Red Sleeve Cuff!! Discovering KFangurl’s blog around the same time was the biggest cherry on top of a massive chocolate cake smothered in the most decadent ganache!! I also got into Webtoons thanks to K-Dramas!
Oh and absolutely love being a part of this community!

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  Sharbani

Hello, nice to e-meet another Melbournian. I haven’t watched the RedSleeve, it does seem to be getting lots of good news about it. the chocolate cake analogy also good, though reading and being part of this blog is like no calories so even better!

Shahz
Shahz
7 months ago

Lovely post and we share quite a few favourites although I swerved Encounter. And similar to you I watched a lot of Scandinavian noir but needed something lighter when the pandemic started
I also remember seeing that Guardian post as well about Cloy. I had just started watching K dramas a most or so before it came out and being quite proud of being ahead of the curve!

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  Shahz

Thanks Shahz

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
7 months ago

Hello Jaco, what an awesome experience and its fabulous that watching Kdramas has changed your life! You certainly have watched many of the mandatory shows so to speak. I am with you re Shin Min Ah, just the best and she keeps evolving as an actress. It’s pretty hard to see CLOY ever being knocked of as Number 1 – but you never know 😊 Psst – just show you know – I am over in the West 😉

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

hi Sean, thanks for your comment. Good to know there are more of us out there!

kate
kate
7 months ago

Hey Jaco! Great post ☺️ Thank you for sharing your story and top 10 list. CLOY was also my gateway drama and Descendents and early rec, so I took a similar course there 😉

Here‘s to more romance on your screens! 🥰🤩

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  kate

Agree!

Elaine
Elaine
7 months ago

Crash Landing on You was my gateway drama too and yes it is very very special. In fact the early part of Hometown Cha Cha Cha reminded me a bit of CLOY in terms of the high maintenance Seoul girl landing in a rural small town, initially finding it weird then adapting to small town ways.

Besides CLOY, HCCC and Healer, the other OTP I really enjoyed was in Her Private Life, very swoony yet healthy relationship dynamics.

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

hi Elaine, I almost put Her Private Life in the top 10…. Really enjoyed it too.

JJ
JJ
7 months ago

Aussie ! Aussie ! Aussie ! Oi! Oi! Oi!!!

Awesome post 🙂 Loved it!

I have had Encounter on my list because of Park Bo Gummy as we like to affectionately call him. He is a total kind Soul and such a cutie. Have you seen him in the Show where he goes to Africa I think it is with some other actor friends. So adorable.

Oh CLOY! One of my first Shows I am watched and rewatched and rewatched and rewatched again! I always wonder how many times did they do that scene at the border?! And she completely made me cry in that moment, when she started I gasped and went OH! and tears welled up and well you know the rest you have been there 🙂

Hear! Hear ! On Coffee Prince, perfection. I will pretend I didnt see your place listing for Goblin while I agree with you wished she would have been in University 🙂

Thank you for sharing your Top 10 Romance List with us!!!

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  JJ

Hello fellow Aussie! Glad you enjoyed it, and sorry about Goblin….. but on other Gong Yoo stuff, I just realised yesterday that (the Australian) SBS on demand app had Kim Ji Young Born 1982 movie which I watched yesterday. I hadn’t managed to see that before and it was very good.
I must track down Park Bo Gum in Africa show? Thanks for that tip and for reading my list.

JJ
JJ
7 months ago
Reply to  jaco_4950

@Jaco_4950 – Ops! I am an honorary Aussie! I has several friends in Melbourne and kept them company during your intense lockdowns. OMO! DO I love AUSSIES!

Oh WOW! I have not seen Kim Ji Young Born 1982. Thanks for the tip, Ill tell my friends who I managed to get hooked on Kdramas during your lockdown 🙂

Oh here it is, I figured you may have already seen it or knew about it 🙂

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_Over_Flowers

https://www.soompi.com/article/839487wpp/watch-ko-kyung-pyo-thanks-park-bo-gum-for-keeping-his-promise-on-youth-over-flowers

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  JJ

I have to watch PBG in this! thanks for the tip, I often don’t realise there are these variety/reality show appearances.

uyen
7 months ago

Great post, Jaco_4950, it was so nice reading it!! I have to admit I didn’t make it through CLOY (I blame spoilers a part in this), but I adore the soundtrack and have also played it on repeat. You have a number of shows on your list I want to watch like Fight For My Way and Healer, and I get you on the Gong Yoo love, I follow this Twitter account that has stans Gong Yoo and provides the funniest thirsty tweets LOL

jaco_4950
jaco_4950
7 months ago
Reply to  uyen

Thanks Uyen for reading and your comments. Hopefully if Healer makes the next group watch we can all enjoy it at the same time!