Patreon Year End Awards: David’s Year In Dramas!

Hey everyone!

We’re having guest posts from the lovely folks on Patreon, to help us take stock of our drama years, kinda-sorta like what we had last year, woot! 🥳

We’ll be seeing about 2 guest posts per week, and this will unfold into January 2023, and that’s perfectly ok. AND, my annual year-in-review, which usually comes out in December, will also come out in January (or thereabouts 😅), after all the guest posts have been published.

If you missed our earlier posts, you can check them out as follows: phl1rxd, j3ffc, Uyen, Sean, Martina.

Today, I’m pleased to announce that David is sharing his drama year!

David’s been more of a silent supporter over on Patreon, so I’m super pleased that he offered to write this year-end post, because what better way to get to know him better, yes? 😁

I hope you guys enjoy!

KFG ❤️

Intro

Hmm – Kdramas – how’d I get here? It’s really a long story and without going through (a lot of) minutiae, here’s a short version.

I travel a lot in my profession.

I did my first Asia roadshow 16 years ago, traveling to Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul. Seoul was the last stop and by the time I landed in Seoul, I was exhausted.

I remember a lot of new buildings where I was staying and as I roamed the city, other areas looked gritty.

My first meal in Seoul was at night on a side street from an elderly man who was BBQing chicken over a makeshift garbage can.

Getting to my flight back to the US was very memorable – I learned Seoul people were very heartwarming (it’s a long story).

My overall memories of Seoul were that it was a city on rapid expansion.

My next trip to Seoul came in 2015.

Aside from learning about Korea’s history, I thought I’d learn about Korea from its movies, primarily over the last twenty years.

Not sure if that premise held up, but I realized I really liked Korean movies.

My favorite Korean movies from this era are: My Sassy Girl, The Handmaiden, The Classic, Oldboy, Memories of Murder, Mother, and more recently, Seoul Searching, Beauty Inside, High Society, Burning, and of course Parasite.

My Sassy Girl – 2001

The Classic OST You to me, Me to you

If you want to see IU earlier in her career, she does a great rendition of You to me, Me to you

I registered for the Seoul 2020 Marathon and looked forward to visiting Seoul again.

Of course, we know by that time, all travel was not permitted.

I finally got back to Seoul twice in 2022.

I met a friend and went to several of the markets, revisit palace visits, noraebangs, and of course experience the food. For me nothing compares to Seoul, not even NYC – maybe Paris.

In 2022, I did not see many Kdramas as compared to 2020 and 2021. I wanted to focus on learning Korean, so I try to keep an even keel of watching Kdramas.

Seoul December 2022

I am pickier on my drama watching now – I try to do some limited research before I watch a drama.

I found KFG’s site a few times in 2020. My favorite review was The Light in Your Eyes. I would have never found that drama and it’s one of my favorites. And, if you haven’t noticed, she does an excellent job on her reviews.

Top Picks of the Year 2022

1. Twenty Five Twenty One

I fell in love with this show in the first 10 minutes, which is very unusual for me.

The interaction and story of the two main characters sets it apart, and of course a great supporting cast.

The Show did have its tropes but doesn’t solely rely on it – and puts its own twist on it.

Overall, the Show executed extremely well – acting, writing, storytelling, and editing. I originally had this show an A-, but when I rewatched it, I skipped the 9/11 reference.

There were many iconic moments, but the last 10 minutes were beautifully done – a breakup is hard to go through, one says things in the heat of the moment – but this final scene allows the audience to come full circle on its relationship.

2. Our Blues

Photo credit: Soompi

I saw the list of actors and thought it was too good to be true.

The format is an omnibus drama with several stories intertwined.

I skeptically watched the first episode. At the end of the first episode – daebak – that last scene was done with style and flair – mic drop.

I was hooked. I appreciated the masterful acting and the story telling with the interwoven characters through the episodes. There were numerous notable scenes that were well crafted. And, of course the scenery is a huge plus.

3. Little Women

I saw two of the lead actors in the trailer and was intrigued at what this drama had to offer.

Based on the title, I thought this would be like American Little Women, perhaps Korean style.

Was I wrong. Oh, it has its subtleties, but packs a punch with a high creep factor supporting characters and many twists and turns.

One critique I’d have is there were a touch too many of those twists and turns. In the end, it does deliver an entertaining action packed suspense thriller.

4. A Business Proposal

When one of the main characters is a chaebol, I’m pretty dubious of the show.

Usually a lead chaebol character is pretty stiff for the first several episodes with the usual tropes. It still occurred here, but Kim Se-Jeong (aka “Aegyo Queen”) carried  the show.

Her physical comedy, mannerisms, and facial expressions keeps one engaged. I’ve not seen this type of comedic acting in many Korean dramas.

Excellent supporting couple – I could have easily seen this duo in its own Kdrama.

Honorable Mentions

Once Upon a Small Town

This isn’t in my top 5, but it’s an easy breezy “starter” Kdrama.

The story line is a straightforward plot, of course with the predictable events.

Sometimes I need a simple rom com Kdrama – simple yet still satisfying. And at 12 episodes at 30+ minutes, it’s easily digestible.

Bonus – I am a sucker when animals are portrayed respectfully and in a good way. You will get your fill on this one.

Paik’s Spirit

Not a Kdrama, but certainly entertaining.

Host Jong-won ssi (chef) is a master in this series, having several guests talk candidly while drinking and eating.

Episode 2 has Han Ji-min (Our Blues, One Spring Night, etc.) which I thought was very insightful about her as an actor – and a little about her drinking which I thought was funny and cute.

I am not into soju but the background stories about “spirits” were well crafted.

Like many Kdrama actors, Jong-won ssi is plastered among some of the convenience stores and this makes sense to me now.

Single’s Inferno

I remember this show kept popping up on my Netflix home screen.

Until I watched a few minutes, I hadn’t realized it’s a Korean reality show. Having dated a South Korean after college, I knew virtually very little about Korea back then.

Does this Show help the uninformed in this case? It would be a stretch to say so. It was interesting to see a different side of Korean pop culture.

As for the show’s concept, it’s perplexing but I found it entertaining nonetheless.

Best Actor

I kept this pretty simple. Who was the one actor I’d want to see again in 2023 – Kim Tae Ri.

She, along with the directors/writers/producers/actors, had many memorable scenes in Twenty Five Twenty One that were done with such emotion, style, passion, and grace.

Best OTP

Twenty Five Twenty One

Though there were minor inconsistencies in the writing of Yi-jin-ssi’s character, it was undeniable the onscreen chemistry, timing, and delivery between Kim Tae-Ri and Nam Joo-Hyuk that made this my #1 OTP.

Best Supporting Actress

Our Blues

Lee Jung-eun has been in several amazing series/movies primarily as a supporting actor – she was one of 8 “leads” in Our Blues.

It was good to see her have some major screen time and a love interest. She always plays her roles with convincing realism done effortlessly.

Supporting actress Jung Eun-hye has Down Syndrome.

In the series, she plays a character with that as well. As the show’s writer stated, it was important that an actor with Down Syndrome play this role.

She delivered a very powerful performance done with authenticity. I hope to see her in other roles.

Razzie Award

So Not Worth It (2021)

It would be too easy to make a pun on the title – I just didn’t get the concept – too many actors, the laugh track wasn’t needed, the jokes seemed very corny.

On the plus side, it was fun to watch the first 15-20 minutes with so many different ethnicities speaking Korean.

~David

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Leslie
Leslie
19 days ago

Hi David – Kim Tae Ri is my favorite female actor of 2022, as well! Her portrayal of Hee Do was inspired, from her physicality, to the brightness of her eyes, to her naked emotional responses. So good.

Thanks for making time to share your favorite dramas this year. It’s so fun to learn about specific favorites, but also about the “wardrobe” of dramas people talk about. That mosaic of our tastes. Wishing you a successful 2023 drama year!

lotusgirl
lotusgirl
22 days ago

I really enjoyed your post! It’s great to get to know you! We loved some of the same shows. Your top shows are some of my favorites. I’m also watching mostly Korean shows and trying to learn the language. 25 21 was so wonderful and honest. The story has really stuck with me.

David
David
22 days ago
Reply to  lotusgirl

Good to meet you lotusgirl. 25 21 has stuck with me as well. Rainbow was a “thing” in the show for them – and I think a great way to represent their relationship – some rainy parts and then an explosion of funness (?). I like how you described it – wonderful and honest – and I’d add in a little pain. But that’s what made it great for me.

Good luck on learning Korean – it was difficult to get started for me, but has progressively gotten better. Depending on where you live, there might be a Korean group that meets – a great way to delve into the language and culture.

kate
kate
23 days ago

Hi David!
Thank you for your origin story, so interesting! I hope to be able to go to Seoul and Korea one day, too.

My best friend in university was Korean-German and I found culture and food interesting from the get-go. Inexplicable that it took me another 20 years to start watching kdramas 😀

I have not seen most of the shows on your list but I love Kim Tae Ri and agree, she is fabulous! (I have seen her in Mr. Sunshine and Space Sweepers 😉 )

Kim Se-jeong was a delight in BP (as well as in The Uncanny Counter)

David
David
22 days ago
Reply to  kate

Thanks Kate. I hope you make to Seoul – it’s fun for sure. Oh, Korean-German. Have you seen Seoul Searching (movie). One of the students cast in the movie grew up in Germany so he speaks German, Korean (and English) and kinda cool how he goes effortlessly goes between them. It’s based on a (mostly?) real story. A couple of tough scenes to watch FYI.

KSJ was really great imo – she carried the show. I have not seen Uncanny Counter – may have to check it out. I only saw 2 epissdes of the School – wasn’t my style, but you can see she’s a natural – she has the acting down pat.

Mr. Sunshine is great! My top 5 maybe – KTR is fantastic – much different role of course than 2521. I’m looking forward to her next drama The Demon.

JJ
JJ
25 days ago

David! Welcome! Hope to see more of you over on Patreon especially at the Water Cooler to regale us with your travel stories 🙂

I loved Our Blues so much and love you mentioned Lee Jung Eun and Jung Eun-hye. I can never get enough of Lee Jung Eun in her shows. She is always a delight to me when she pops up in a Show. I love she was one of the leads in Our Blues.

Wasnt Jung Eun Hye just amazing? Did you see the behind the scenes with her and how the cast was with her during scenes. Beautiful ! Did you know she is a real artist and her family made a documentary about her art work? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c5qqx8KVcUlist=PLXInv7a5PbW5xoZSenNexve92HnpFcdsJ&index=2&ab_channel=KBS%EA%B5%90%EC%96%91

She is so very talented. And some of the cast continues to support her art work.

I have yet to see Business Proposal, but you may have convinced me to press play!

Many thanks for sharing your EOY picks!

Last edited 25 days ago by JJ
David
David
22 days ago
Reply to  JJ

Thank you for sharing the link on Jung Eun Hye, I had not seen that video. I had looked JEH up while watching the show. I had thought it was a possibility it was her artwork. That last scene of that story line was a real tear jerker in a good way. And I hopefully BP is not over hyped – it’s good to see Kim Se-jeong and a strong supporting couple.

JJ
JJ
18 days ago
Reply to  David

@David – You are welcome! Her art is so amazing and I am so glad her family decided to document her journey. She is prolific with her artwork. I love her style so much. I have watched her story line on Our Blues three or four times now. ❤️

Ill let you know about BP 🙂 I do have a soft spot for Ahy Hyo Seop since seeing him in Lovers of the Red Sky. 🥰

j3ffc
j3ffc
26 days ago

Loved your post David, not least because I saw 3/4 of your top ten and enjoyed each of them as well! Great acting nods – especially glad to see you give a nod to Lee Jung-eun (always good but rarely given this much screen time) and to Jung Eun-hye (no expert, but I thought the writers did a good, non-sentimental take on her character). And I too liked the second couple of Business Proposal, which for me, was the most unexpected pleasure simply because I had no expectations going in).

mikerepeort
mikerepeort
26 days ago

The Light In Your Eyes: I guess I’m the only one that found the show a little bit . . . creepy? Go figure!

anonymous
anonymous
26 days ago

Really dont get the hype around 25 21 and little women…..
That paik show is a drinking show right?
Singles Inferno :DDDD lol trash TV deluxe

David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  anonymous

Paik is more Koreans just talking over food & drinks, I thought it was done really well.
Ah, Singles Inferno – my guilty pleasure, yes, total trash deluxe (I’m using that now). I was embarrassed I liked the show. So I braved asking one of my Korean friends – what do you think of this show. She nodded her head in disbelief – who are these people, a doctor, Ms. Korea, a pianist, Harvard pre-med student; people, she said, only go on this show for personal gain. I thought, she hates the show. And after listening for another 5 minutes, I realized she knew just about everything about this show. It’s not for everyone that’s for sure.

Share what you liked…

anonymous
anonymous
26 days ago
Reply to  David

Yeah checked Paiks show out but none of the guest were really interesting for me.
I guess this is a guilty pleasure for loads of people. Most people pretend like they don’t know but those are the same people that can even quote the people on the show.
I just hate these typed of shows ^^

Last edited 26 days ago by anonymous
Ele Nash
27 days ago

Excellent, David, that you mention A Business Proposal! It was such a guilty pleasure for me to watch (I don’t know why guilty, but I kind of sniggered my way through it like a teenager, relishing those soap opera TV moments echoing their ‘real’ life 😊) Happy viewing indeed! I’m not sure we’ve ever ‘chatted’ before but hello 👋 and thank you for sharing your highlights (most I’ve woefully not seen, even those classic films. Tsk.)

David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Hi Ele – yea, ABP was fun to watch, wasn’t anything new per say, but I just enjoyed the see the leads and supporting couple – the grandpa (if I remember) was a real character. And hello too.

Natalia
Natalia
27 days ago

Hey David, nice to meet you. Thank you for your list, I haven’t watched most of these shows but I do feel they are a tribute to your love for Korea. I think J3ffc should cast you in his own holidays special show!
We should meet at the water cooler indeed, to share experiences from our travels; for me, it has mostly been Japan for family reasons, but Korea has a special place in my heart
Last but not least, thanks for honoring the two ladies from our blues. One a veteran, one a newbie, they were both 👏

David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  Natalia

Tokyo is great too! It’s on my list in 2023 now that individual tourists can visit now. Yea, don’t think I can be in any cast realistically, unless they want a an American who can’t speak Korean that well. I would love to share Tokyo stories – I can speak a bit of Japanese (unfortunately forgotten most if it), but Korean I think is easier to learn.

j3ffc
j3ffc
26 days ago
Reply to  David

Well, David, if you’re up to it, I’m sure we could squeeze you in as a beleaguered Domino’s delivery guy who has to try to explain to a bunch of Koreans that he cannot, sorry! deliver Jajangmyeon in a blizzard, but here’s those anchovy pizzas you ordered.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
25 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

😂🤣😂

David
David
23 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

Oh, I got this one memorized already (romanization) – bakke nuni ogo isseoyo (literally: outside snow is, i.e., it’s snowing outside). I’d also throw in a couple of michyeosseo (are you crazy!)

BUT, after the blizzard, I get on my motorbike with the “pija” – as I whiz by, of course the female lead actor does not see me, the male actor catches her, but she doesn’t like him, so I stop and she hops on, away we go into the Seoul sunset

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
20 days ago
Reply to  David

David – love it 😎😎😎

Leslie
Leslie
19 days ago
Reply to  David

@David – Perfetto!

LaVieEstBelle22
LaVieEstBelle22
23 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

😂

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
27 days ago

@David – I enjoyed reading your EOY post and getting to know a little about you.

I love your description of Once Upon a Small Town as “easy breezy “starter” Kdrama”. It was quite a pleasant watch and I found the FL very endearing.

Lee Jung-eun is a real pro. Her acting skill is a force to be reckoned with. I always think she has the inner energy of a lightning bolt.

I am glad to see Paik’s Spirit as a selection. Yay for food! I always use his recipe for Galbi-jjim 갈비찜. Now I think I will add my favorite variety show of 2023 next December as I have my favorites (Master in the House – now on a hiatus – and I enjoy Radio Star as well) and I even have favorite episodes. BTW – I looked Paik’s Spirit up and I see Lee Jong Gi is in E3. I will most definitely be watching that tomorrow!

I am so happy for you that you actually get to go to a place a lot of us only see on our screens. Drop some stories/photos off over at the Patreon Water Cooler – I would love to hear about some Seoul escapades!

David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Oh, I don’t know the Water Cooler – will have to stop by. There’s some interesting things that have happened in Seoul – for another time. Paik’s Spirit reminds me a little of watching Anthony Bourdain (AB is in a class by himself). Though every time I watched it Paik’s, I wanted Korean food and soju.

Galbi-jjim sounds yummy. Arirang Korean Restaurant in Seoul has excellent spicy ribs – if your near the main Lotte store, it’s around the corner.

uyen
27 days ago

Loved reading your post, David!! So I watched The Classic before I really got into kdramas and had no idea the actors were A listers, so I’ve been meaning to go back to watch for fun. I love IU, so thanks for sharing that clip. I also realized Hospital Playlist had a cover of that song too.

Oldboy freaked me out, but while my best friend hated Burning, I actually found it interesting. I’ll have to check out some of the other ones you’ve mentioned (you reminded me I still have yet to see My Sassy Girl!).

Totally agree on your love for Twenty Five Twenty One and Kim Tae Ri.

25-21 OTP
I loved the OTP too, but I did like them better as friends. My favorite scene of them was when she told him she saw his dad and there was the running and dropping of the shoe and he got mad at her and it was just very emotional but also kinda lovely to see their care for each other even at that early stage of their relationship
.

I also loved the second couple in Business Proposal very much.

Thank you for sharing!

David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  uyen

Thanks Uyen. Definitely see My Sassy Girl – it’s really good imo. If you like that and The Classic, it’s worth seeing Windstruck – it pays homage to both those movies in the last scenes.

Kim Tae Ri characters does what The Classic Son Ye-jin’s character does with her bangs.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
27 days ago

A very big welcome to you, David. Thank you for sharing your South Korean insights and experiences. I have either seen in full, or sampled everything you have shared here, except for the Razzie Award – lol re the name.

You are so spot on re Lee Jung-eun. She just has this amazing presence, even in the much lesser known shows she has been in.

I really enjoyed Once Upon A Small Town. The issues in a small town seem to transcend the world over.

In terms of movies, I’m probably one of the few people that hasn’t watched Parasite, although normally the actors involved would draw me in.

Kim Tae Ri is very good and I think she is on the path to an even better future. I particularly enjoyed her relationship with Bona’s character 25 21. We were also watching Bona in another show at the same time and it just brings home how good the Korean actresses are with their character transformations.

So, here is to a good viewing year for you in 2023 😊😉

David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Thank you Sean – appreciated your review of UTQU – it’s on my to do list. On my last return flight from Seoul, i was watching the first episode, the gal next started watching UTQU – she falls asleep within 10 minutes and I am literally trying not to watch her screen – she’s got the last episode on! I couldn’t resist and saw the last 15 minutes. She wakes up 3 hours later and restarts the last episode again. I’ll eventually get back to the show.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
26 days ago
Reply to  David

Lol re your UTQU experience, David. I hope you savour every moment when you do get to it 😊

MC
MC
27 days ago

Hi David! I enjoyed reading this and getting to know you better. I’m planning a trip to Seoul hopefully this year so I hope to experience the magic as you have! I also enjoyed your shows and have a number of them on my to-watch list. Have a great year!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
27 days ago
Reply to  MC

MC – Do not forget us and please share some photos of the city when you get back. I hope you get to go this year!!

David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  MC

Happy to share my experiences on Seoul. I am planning to go back in late January, otherwise not there until summer again. It’s a decently long flight from California and jet lag is a pain. Visit some of the palaces – they’ll point out which Kdramas were filmed at that location. DMZ is worth a visit (take the no shopping tour). The tour guide was very entertaining and provided some very interesting NK spy stories. And the food is awesome! Spicy ribs, friend chicken, tteokbokki, and cheese balls are musts.

Trent
27 days ago

David — thanks for sharing! I am very envious of your visits to Seoul… (I had a layover in Gimpo Int’l Airport quite a few years ago, but that’s it).

I really liked all of your drama choices…well, Small Town was harmless fun with a pretty cast and pretty location, at least. And I agree with you that The Light in Your Eyes, which I just saw earlier this year, is great stuff (I’m actually glad I didn’t read KFG’s review beforehand, because although she is quite good about respecting spoilers, I think that’s a show that avoiding spoilers as much as possible actually matters–I did read it after I finished the show).

Good luck on your learning Korean project, and I hope you are able to find some great dramas this year to watch…

David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  Trent

I think I needed Small Town more than I knew – sometimes I don’t want to have to over think what’s going on.

Learning Korean has been interesting so far. I can read and write, my pronunciation isn’t great, as my Korean-American friends will tell me. Whenever I try to talk Korean, they want to learn English, we go back and forth of what to speak. I will say knowing some Korean helps with Kdramas 🙂

Elaine
Elaine
27 days ago

Hi David! Thank you for sharing this post. I really enjoyed your history of visits to Korea, and specifically that you found Seoul even more amazing than NYC! I hope to visit one day.

Also high five, I have seen 4 of the shows in your post! Twenty-Five Twenty-One – I didn’t agree with some of the story choices, but I can’t deny that the story was vibrant and vividly done all the way through to the end. I spazzed with fizzy pleasure through A Business Proposal, and Little Women is definitely up there. Totally agree some of the twists were unnecessary/perplexing, but it is high-quality entertainment, reckless story and all! I also found Once Upon a Small Town not bad for a diversion if you know what you’re getting into! I enjoyed the animal storylines, thought they were definitely unusual – farm animals instead of pets – and well done. The acting was amateurish but amiable enough!

David
David
26 days ago
Reply to  Elaine

Hi Elaine – thanks for the comments. Sounds like similar tastes? I am definitely looking for my next drama(s) – J/C/T/K. I went to Seoul this past December and got to see light snow flurries for the first there, I thought it was pretty cool, people were looking at me like I was silly. Seoul is worth a visit imo. Easy to use subways, people in hotels speak English and will help you. I was there 3 years ago and the gal spent 20 minutes with me – and she was very curious about the US – we talked kramas. There is still one thing I haven’t done in Seoul – eat ramyeon in a convenience store – cliche I know.

And I will say even writing this took me some time – so in complete awe of what KFG does here.

Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
23 days ago
Reply to  David

Haha yes, it does sound like we have similar tastes! If so, you might like My Liberation Notes? It is one of my top top dramas for 2022.

For C dramas, my 2022 faves are Reset and Shining for One Thing!

Thank you for sharing a lovely memory of Seoul. I know what you mean about seeing snow flurries for the first time, I live in Singapore so like (southern) California we never see snow!

You also made me hungry with your description of the daebak food in Korea in your other comments further up. Perhaps Jeju should be on your list yet? I’ve never been but some of my colleagues went in December and the scenery is beautiful.